School awards omit students
March 30, 2010 · Updated 11:04 AM
Recently, three Island schools were recognized by the state for excellence in education: Island Park Elementary, Lakeridge Elementary and Mercer Island High School. What happened to West Mercer and Islander Middle School? The gossip lines are abuzz with speculation, and none of it is charitable.
Here’s the truth: Both West Mercer and Islander were disqualified from consideration for these honors because both schools have 10 percent or more of our students identified as gifted.
Personally, I think that it’s pathetic that our kids, and kids in similarly situated schools, can’t receive the recognition that they deserve because the state is too lazy (or incompetent) to work with the data a little bit. Anyone with 10 minutes of experience with Excel could figure out how to code students in the gifted programs so that they could be selected out of student population. Then the rest of the school would be on equal footing with everyone else and eligible for state recognition.
This process also discriminates against small school districts because all of the students in those districts will likely attend a single middle school. If this is a high performing district, like ours or Bainbridge Island, the kids at those middle schools will never be eligible for recognition no matter how well they do; unless they do not have a program that specifically identifies gifted students.
What a great message the state is sending to our students. Work hard, do well, and you’ll get ... well, nothing.
Teacher, West Mercer Elementary