EVERETT — An Everett elementary school that has dramatically improved its test scores in reading, writing and math over the past seven years has caught the attention of Gov. Gary Locke and the head of the state school system.
Locke and Terry Bergeson, state superintendent of public instruction, paid a visit to Madison Elementary School on Thursday for a schoolwide assembly to recognize the campus of roughly 550 students as Washington’s Reading School of the Month for March.
"No matter what you want to be when you grow up, you have to start by being a good reader," Locke told the students. "I am so proud of all the progress the students at Madison have made in reading. It’s a credit to your hard work and to the hard work of your teachers, administrators and parents."
The percentage of Madison fourth-graders reaching state standards on the rigorous Washington Assessment of Student Learning exceeds the state average in all four subject areas tested.
In reading, 78 percent of the students posted passing reading scores, compared with 66.7 statewide. Madison excelled in math with 84 percent passing, compared with the state average of 55.2 percent.
Seven years ago, just 16 percent of Madison fourth-graders passed the math exam, and only half passed the reading assessment. Writing scores have improved from 19 percent in 1997 to 68 percent in 2003.
Forty-seven percent of Madison’s students have family incomes that qualify them for free or subsidized lunches, and 70 students are learning English as a second language.
After the assembly, Locke and Bergeson met with school staff, students and a parent.
"We want to hear what the magic ingredients are that we can take to other schools across the state," Locke said.
Carol Whitehead, the Everett School District superintendent, said she sees solid instruction at many schools, but at Madison there is an extremely high level of teamwork.
Teachers at all grade levels are focused on the same goals, but also are in frequent contact with fellow teachers at grades above and below to make sure they’re aware of what students are learning and need to know, Whitehead said.
Sergy Petrov, 11, who immigrated from Ukraine at age 7, made a similar observation.
"I feel good because everybody works together and stuff to help each other," he said.
Elena Estrada, a fourth-grader, offered her tip on why she is a successful reader.
"I always think about what the author was thinking when he or she wrote the book," she said.
Joan Heiden, a third-grade teacher, said assessment drives instruction at Madison and students learn early on to recognize key words, such as "summarize," in testing.
Ammie Braden, a mother of a second-grade boy, said Madison keeps parents in the loop.
"We have to have the information available as parents as to what the teachers expect of us … to do at home," Braden said. "They give that information to us. They allow us to succeed in our children’s lives."
Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or email@example.com.