Earlier this month, school district officials from around the state got a snapshot look into how their schools are doing with testing, graduation rates, attendance and other metrics.
The Washington State Report Card, gathered and published by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, aims to give local schools and the public a glimpse into how students are performing.
The data and findings are based on the 2018-2019 school year.
At both Yelm Community Schools and the Rainier School District, the percentage of students who regularly attend class is greater than the state’s average. At Yelm, about 83.7 percent of all students regularly attend class, and roughly 88.2 percent in Rainier regularly attend. The state average is 82.9 percent.
Graduation rates at both Yelm High School and Rainier High School are also up. About 85.5 percent of students at Yelm High School graduated in four years or less, with Rainier graduating around 90 percent in the same timespan.
The state average for students who graduate in four years or less is 80.9 percent.
Dropout rates at both schools are also below the state’s average of 11.2 percent recorded for the class of 2018. About 8.5 percent of Yelm’s class of 2018 reportedly dropped out, with 8.3 percent of students at Rainier dropping out.
Superintendent of Yelm Community Schools Brian Wharton agreed that his school district did well last year when it came to attendance. As a whole, the district came up two points in daily attendance, and the chronic absentee rate didn’t change at all.
“That’s massive. That’s really a lot more kids spending a lot more time at school,” he said.
This comes as spending per student at both districts is down when compared to the state average. About $1,000 less is spent on each student within Yelm and Rainier school districts.
Within state grade standards, both districts fared pretty well.
Rainier School District excelled in the percentage of students that met grade level standards for science classes. Roughly 52.3 percent of students within the district met this standard when compared to the state’s average of 46.7 percent. But the district ultimately fell short on math and ELA (English, language and the arts) grade standards, with 47.2 percent meeting math and 54.6 meeting ELA.
Yelm fared about the same. Students at the Yelm school district were able to surpass the average state percentage of those who met science grade level standards (48.1 percent), but lagged in math (47.7 percent) and ELA (59.3 percent).
When it comes to math and ELA testing standards, the numbers for those that met are about 48.9 percent statewide for math standards and 59.6 percent met for ELA.
At the Rainier School District, roughly 47.2 percent of students met math standards and 54.6 percent of students met ELA standards.
At Yelm Community Schools, about 47.7 percent of students met math standards and 59.3 percent met ELA standards. Within the district, Wharton said the goal is always to surpass state averages and expectations.
“There’s lots of home runs in the data when you start breaking it down besides those big averages. And, to be fair, there are some places where we have to get better,” he said.
Overall, Wharton said he doesn’t believe data from the OSPI Report Card tells the whole story. Like its name suggests, the report can mostly be boiled down to a snapshot, year in review report that lacks layers of context crucial to understanding how students progress in education.
“It’s hard to really see on the report card how a district is progressing,” he said. “It’s just the facts. It doesn’t allow you to really dig in and say, ‘What’s going on in each of these classrooms?’”
But the progress that Yelm has made can’t be understated, Wharton said. When Wharton came into his position, he said the district only met two of the 14 standards in the Report Card. This year, they’re averaging six of the 14, with more room to improve.
“We’re never satisfied until we’re at state average with everything. And that’s where we’re going. I’m very pleased with the growth we’re seeing … I like that kids are coming to school more,” he said.
More information can be found at www.washingtonstatereportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us.