Port Angeles School District student scores inching up

Board hears results of state assessments, approves teacher contract

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles School District saw slightly improved test scores in science and matched gains achieved last year in English language arts and math, although numbers haven’t bounced back from pre-pandemic levels, Assistant Superintendent Michelle Olsen told the board.

They are nonetheless trending in the right direction, Olsen said Sept. 21.

“We’re getting back up there where we want to be,” Olsen said.

Olsen presented 2022-2023 data from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction indicating that, overall, district students in grades 3-8 and 10 performed slightly better than their peers across the state on the standardized tests taken in the spring that assess student learning. When broken down by grade, performance against state results varied.

For example, 46 percent of district sixth-graders met grade-level standards for math versus 37 percent of Washington sixth-graders. District fourth-graders, on the other hand, performed less well in ELA testing, with 42 percent meeting grade-level standards versus 49 percent of their peers across the state.

Board member Jacob Wright said that although district students were, on the whole, outperforming other Washington students, the statewide test scores were sometimes very low.

“Should we be worried that, even though we’re beating state standards, that in some cases just 30 percent or 40 percent of our students meeting the standard?” Wright asked.

Olsen said that was an important point that the administration had discussed.

“You’re right, the bottom line is, we want to increase the percentage of our students” meeting the standard, Olsen said.

This year, Olsen said, district schools would be focusing on core classroom instruction, curriculum and assessment.

“It’s being clear about what we’re teaching, being clear how we are measuring [learning] and then focusing in on the conversations about what we are doing when students are struggling,” she said. “With all of those pieces going together, our plan is to see those percentages increase.”

Olsen said district students performed well on Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills, a process teachers use to assess students’ development and readiness for kindergarten in six areas: cognitive, language, literacy, math, physical and social-emotional. Students mostly matched or outperformed state scores.

“This really speaks to the strength of our early childhood programs across our community,” Olsen said.

Complete results by district and school can be found on the OSPI website at tinyurl.com/bdf7xjvw.

Among the consent agenda items the board passed was the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the Port Angeles Education Association. Unlike the previous agreement hammered out last fall that was only for one year, the current agreement runs through Aug. 31, 2026.

The district and the PAEA agreed to meet before April 1 next year to reopen bargaining on issues related to non-instruction days, transfers and reassignments, teacher evaluations and reductions in force. It agreed to meet before April 1, 2025, to reopen discussions on class sizes. Bargaining could also re-open if the state Legislature institutes changes that affect what was in the agreement.

A representative for the Port Angeles Association of Educational Office Professionals said in an email that it had reached a tentative agreement with the district. Its members will vote on ratification Oct. 8. If the agreement is approved, it will be presented to the school board for its approval on Oct. 12.

Port Angeles Paraeducator Association president Rebecca Winters said in an emailed statement that they are continuing to bargain with the district.

“We have a concise list of proposals to the District that we’ve put together based on member input and staffing and budget data and research,” Winters wrote. “We look forward to making the progress necessary in our contract to recruit and retain our talented para workforce to support students.”

In other meeting news:

• District Superintendent Marty Brewer said Dry Elementary School had been among the areas affected by unhealthy air conditions in the lower portions of the Elwha Valley created by wildfires in Olympic National Park. Out of an abundance of caution on Wednesday, Brewer said, students were not allowed outside, staff and students were offered masks if they wanted to use them, and parents were notified in case their child had a health condition that might make them vulnerable to the effects of the smoke.

• Port Angeles High School senior Yau Fu was sworn in as the student representative to the Board of Directors. This is her second year serving in that role.

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