Tacoma has fewer campuses on annual list of struggling schools

There were some signs of improvement on the state’s annual list of struggling schools, which was released Tuesday.

Both statewide and in Tacoma, the number of schools listed as either “priority” or “focus” schools is down slightly from last year.

Last year, there were 284 schools statewide identified with one of the labels; this year, there are 253.

Last year, Tacoma had 17 schools on the combined list; this year, there are 14.

Schools were identified using three-year averages (school years 2011-12 through 2013-14) of reading and math scores from state tests and/or state-calculated graduation rates, where applicable.

Priority school designation is based on the performance of all students in a school; it includes schools that have scored in the lowest 5 percent on state tests, as well as schools in which under 40 percent of students perform at grade level on the tests.

Focus schools are identified based on test scores from one or more student subgroups in a school — for example, students from a single racial group or students receiving special education. Focus schools include those with subgroups that have scored in the lowest 10 percent statewide.

Some Pierce County schools moved off the lists altogether, while others shifted position from last year.

In Tacoma, two middle schools, Giaudrone and Jason Lee, that appeared on last year’s priority list are no longer on it. But Giaudrone remains a focus school for students with disabilities.

Mann Elementary, which appeared on the focus list last year for students with disabilities, is off the list this year.

In Lakewood’s Clover Park School District, Lochburn Middle School was on the focus list last year for English language learners and for students with disabilities. This year, it is on the priority list for overall student performance.

In the Spanaway-based Bethel School District, Centennial Elementary was on the focus list for students with disabilities last year. This year, it’s off the list. But five other Bethel schools remain on the focus list, all for students with disabilities.

A bill passed in 2013 requires the state to compile the list of priority and focus schools annually. The schools will receive additional state or federal funding, along with guidance from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Individual school funding levels have not yet been determined.

“We know that schools in our state struggle,” state Superintendent Randy Dorn said in a news release.

He said the state can pinpoint areas where students need the most help and offer support for those schools.