Two Marysville schools will share $4.5 million for improvements

MARYSVILLE — Two Marysville schools with low test scores will share $4.5 million to make improvements.

Totem Middle School and Tulalip Elementary School, both deemed in need of improvement by the federal government, are among 18 schools across the state that will receive additional money over three years to bolster instruction.

What it means for the schools is more learning time through longer school days and summer school. A typical school day at Tulalip will be 35 minutes longer. Totem will add a half hour.

“There is a lot of work to be done,” said district Superintendent Larry Nyland. “The goal is to hit the ground running in the fall.”

Marysville and other districts learned earlier this month that they would receive extra money, but didn’t know until last week how much it would be. The district requested $4.8 million.

The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction awarded the grant money. Forty-one public schools with low test scores applied across the state. Less than half received grants.

Under federal rules, teachers and principals at the two schools will face new evaluations designed to increase accountability.

There also will be more frequent spot checks to make sure individual students are making progress in reading and math, with some assessments done on computer to give teachers quicker feedback.

To qualify, the Marysville School Board voted to adopt a federal model for changing the schools.

Each state comes up with a list of schools that qualify based on test scores. Although Marysville officials disputed the ranking, Totem is on the state’s list of schools scoring in the bottom 5 percent in WASL math and reading exams when averaged over the past three years.

The federal government gave local school districts four models to follow to turn low-performing schools around.

Marysville opted for a “transformation model.” The rules required the district to replace longtime Totem principal Judy Albertson, who will be moved at the end of the school year to another position within the district. Tulalip principal Chris Sampley was allowed to remain because she was new at the school this year.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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