MUKILTEO – One by one, students at Olympic View Middle School sidled up alongside their language arts and math teachers last week.
In short conferences, they reviewed results on local, state and national assessments, pinpointing strengths and weaknesses. They later discussed goals for improving their skills and scores.
Then, it was time to seal the deal – a contract outlining strategies to improve their results. Student, teacher, parent and principal sign the compacts each year.
“It wasn’t bad,” said Caity Walthall, 11, a sixth-grader who completed her first compact. “We just went over our goals and what we are going to do to reach them.”
This is the third year that the four middle schools in the Mukilteo district have written student compacts. Administrators at the campuses in Mukilteo and south Everett were looking for ways to give their approximately 3,000 middle school students more responsibility for their education.
Judith Murdock, the district’s director of secondary education, is the former principal at Olympic View Middle School. She believes the contracts make a difference.
At Olympic View, a survey of students three years ago found a little more than a third of them understood the meaning and significance of their scores on the various assessment tests.
The one-on-one meetings give teachers a chance to explain what the scores mean and how to interpret the data. The contracts, with student input, set improvement goals.
“Goal-setting is so critical,” said Diane Golob, a math, computer and science teacher at Olympic View. “It helps us move forward. It’s a real life skill for kids. That’s what I like about it.”
Hanna Glafke, 13, a seventh-grade student at Olympic View, likes setting goals and discussing them with her parents, but isn’t too excited about having to review scores with teachers.
“I don’t think we should have to conference with the teachers,” she said. “I think it’s just the parents we should have to conference with.”
Her mother, Julie, doesn’t mind the additional time Hanna spends with individual teachers.
“I think it’s good for the kids to have an idea what the tests are about. And setting goals is always a good thing,” she said. “This helps you put it into smaller steps.”
Olympic View principal Nancy Coogan said the compacts are aimed at setting realistic, incremental goals that can be measured over time.
“You have to ask yourself: Is the goal attainable?”
Alison Brynelson, principal at Voyager Middle School, said the contracts help define ways to improve while providing useful information for teachers to meet student needs.
“We are doing something different to make it more meaningful for kids, parents and staff members,” she said.
Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.