South End schools work to improve test scores, reputations
While the work is far from over, schools are making progress
By Gwen Davis
photo/Gwen Davis
Aki Kurose Middle School Academy, 3928 S. Graham St., and other Southeast Seattle schools are making headways in improving students’ academic achievement.

It has been a bumpy road for the South End public Schools. As they struggle with low test scores and bad attendance records, the schools have earned amongst the lowest district rankings within recent years.

But with newfound teacher, parent and principal efforts to improve educational quality, the road going forward may be smoother.

“We have strong, committed teachers at our school and a unified team of administration, teachers and parents who are working together on behalf of Hawthorne students,” said Jen Ayers Friends of Hawthorne PTA secretary, regarding the elementary school’s recent run to raise student academic-proficiency levels.

“The collective group effort and positivity is infectious and is creating a wonderful energy and feeling at our school across the board — and now, we are reaping the positive benefits and results of that,” Ayers said. “The achievement of improved test scores is very exciting.”

The latest 2010-2011 Seattle Public School (SPS) tracking reports indicate that 34 percent of third-, fourth-and fifth-graders at Hawthorne (4100 39th Ave. S.) are proficient in reading, which may be low but is up from the 2009-2010 year, when only 20 percent of students where proficient in reading.

Hawthorne also improved in math, where 38 percent of the students of the same grade levels achieved proficiency, whereas in 2009-2010, only 19 percent of students were proficient.

(But to note, when the grades were measured individually, some groups of students displayed lower proficiency rates in 2010-2011 than in the previous year. See the SPS “School Reports and District Scorecards” webpage for more details.)

Aki Kurose Middle School Academy (3928 S. Graham St.) also showed improvements in overall sixth-through eighth-grade-student proficiency levels. While reading scores stayed the same in the 2010-2011 year from the previous year — both years at 49 percent — math, reading and writing scores improved for the combined three grades. (Again, for the complete breakdown, visit the SPS webpage mentioned above.)