How do we know students will succeed? How can we follow their progress from kindergarten to graduation to know that they are on track, learning what they need at each level?
Vancouver Public Schools has established milestone benchmarks—checkpoints along the way. There are seven benchmarks: 1) Students are ready for kindergarten; 2) Third-graders are reading on grade level; 3) Sixth-graders are ready for middle school; 4) Seventh-graders are ready for pre-algebra or algebra in eighth grade; 5) Ninth-graders are ready for high school; 6) Tenth-graders are passing the High School Proficiency Exam; and 7) Students are ready for college and career.
Each of these benchmarks has one or more measures (or indicators) to assist in monitoring progress. “The benchmarks and indicators were chosen based on solid research. They are high leverage, high yield,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “We know that not all students will meet every benchmark on time. But, we believe that when we focus on these measures, we can increase the numbers of students who do,” he added.
To follow progress, the district developed a District Performance Scorecard. Similar to a report card, it keeps track of data for every benchmark and every indicator. “These 25 key performance indicators tell a more complete story of this district’s performance and provide a richer profile of student and school success beyond a single state assessment measure,” said Webb. “Certainly, we’ll continue to use state assessment results to inform our improvement efforts, but we’ve got to have multiple measures that allow us to act with focus, intervening early in the ‘pipeline’ to better prepare each student for college, careers, and life.”
For each indicator, the Board of Directors has set five-year targets. Many measurements already show growth. Here are some examples:
Students ready for kindergarten • Kindergarteners pass a fall assessment.
The percentage of kindergartners who passed the fall assessment in 2007-08 was 33 percent. That percentage increased to 39 percent by 2008-09, and 40 percent by 2009-10. Our target is 55 percent for 2015.
Sixth-graders ready for middle school • Sixth-graders at or above 95 percent attendance. From 2008-09 to 2009-10, the percentage of students in this category increased from 43 percent to 46 percent. Our target is 60 percent by 2015.
• Sixth-graders at or above 3.0 GPA. From 2008-09 to 2009-10, the percentage of students with a 3.0 or better GPA increased from 46 percent to 49 percent. The target is 60 percent by 2015.
Students ready for college and career • Graduates meeting requirements to earn college credit while in high school. In 2004-05, only 15 percent of our graduates met this indicator. By 2009-10, that had increased to 40 percent. Our goal is 60 percent by 2015.
• High school students who enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) class. In 2008-09, 41 percent were enrolled; in 2009-10, 45 percent were enrolled. By 2015, our goal is to have 50 percent of all high school students enrolled in AP or IB. In the past decade, the percent enrolled has increased from three to 45 percent.
The district scorecard will be updated every year, and each school’s improvement plan and school targets will be aligned with the milestone benchmark measures. “We’ll continue to focus on what’s working to help students meet these benchmarks,” said Webb.
The milestone benchmarks, measures and targets support the district’s Design II Strategic Plan.
New in 2011–12!
Milestone Benchmarks provide shared outcomes for all of our schools. Each year every building develops a School Improvement Plan. Beginning with the 2010-11 school year, these plans included targets and strategies focused on Milestone Benchmark measures. Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, VPS will publish School Performance Scorecards to accompany the District Performance Scorecard. We're working together so every student can succeed!
New in 2012–13! In Vancouver Public Schools, data is routinely used to examine progress toward meeting district goals that lead to positive results for students. One source of data beyond the Milestone Benchmarks is the Washington Achievement Index, developed by the State Board of Education. Click here to learn more about the index and VPS results.