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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Public Schools scrutinizes learning progress as district finds kids’ math skills stalling

Nov. 8, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 8, 2022 at 7:52 p.m.

Prior to the pandemic, 56% of students in Spokane Public Schools met grade standards in English and 45.2% did so in math. Those numbers dropped to 46% in English and 28.2% in math, in the tests administered last fall. Spring assessments stood at 47.4% in English and 34.2% in math.  (JESSE TINSLEY)
Prior to the pandemic, 56% of students in Spokane Public Schools met grade standards in English and 45.2% did so in math. Those numbers dropped to 46% in English and 28.2% in math, in the tests administered last fall. Spring assessments stood at 47.4% in English and 34.2% in math. (JESSE TINSLEY)
By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

The average elementary student in Spokane Public Schools isn’t progressing quickly enough in math, according to district documents.

However, those same students are close to goals set in language arts, the district said ahead of a presentation, “District Academic Performance Results,” Wednesday night to the board of directors.

And in both subjects, the district said it is closely monitoring the progress of all students.

The district uses two online tools – Dreambox for math and Lexia for language arts – to measure individual progress.

According to the documents, the typical elementary school student gained 6.4 months of performance. The district’s goal is 10 months – or roughly the length of the school year.

In language arts, the typical student gained 10.9 months; the goal is 12 months.

“We are in a better spot there, that’s for sure,” said Scott Kerwien, the district’s director of student success.

Kerwien said the district is taking a proactive approach, with many teachers breaking up their classes into groups, with one receiving more “direct support” from the instructor.

Moreover, Kerwien said that the DreamBox and Lexia tools offer detailed information on each student’s progress.

The presentation also will cover kindergarten readiness, which in Spokane stands at 29% – far below the statewide average of 50.4%.

That gap has been attributed partly to the lack of affordable quality child care in Spokane. However, the district has expanded its preschool offerings, as well as a full-day pre-K program at 11 elementary schools.

Wednesday night’s report will cover much more than elementary school academics. The presentation covers all grades from K-12, with details on how different groups are faring in the classroom and in the larger context of the school community.

Surveys included questions about school climate and life skills. Also on the agenda is a discussion of student engagement – that is, involvement in extracurricular activities.

Kerwien said that student success can sometimes be boosted by involvement in sports, clubs or other activities.

“We’re hoping to identify how many students are involved in at least one area,” Kerwien said.

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