Jefferson MS recognized for school improvement

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Jefferson MS recognized for school improvement
Students working at Jefferson Middle SchoolJefferson Middle School is one of 38 Washington schools recognized in a study released this month for removing barriers and creating conditions that amplified strengths of Black, Latino/a, American Indian/Alaska Native, and/or Students Experiencing Poverty.

Notably, Jefferson was the only school in the state recognized for gains in three of the demographic groups studied.

Jefferson was first identified as a “Positive Outlier School” in spring 2020, based on student-level academic and engagement data from 2014-19. The data measured “systemic performance and improvement” in areas such as attendance, progress for English learners, math, English language arts, and readiness for high school.

The school was then invited to participate in a study this past year, conducted by the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The study included interviews and/or focus groups with representatives from the 38 recognized elementary, middle and high schools.

CEE Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Steach said the study resulted in “the critical understanding of what is happening in the Outlier schools. This provides a blueprint of promising practices, programs and systems for others to study and possibly implement in their districts. Not only in Washington, but also across the country."

Jefferson Middle School Principal Michael Cimino said of the honor, “Often times people ask how we have narrowed the achievement gap for all students. This includes students of color, poverty and special needs. Many think there is a magic sauce or one program that will make a difference. There is no such thing. I view the success through the lens of hard work and dedication to every student that walks through the doors of Jefferson. Each student is treated as an individual with individual needs.”

He continued, “The key to it all is to hire dedicated staff who have experienced hardships in their own life that can respond to students with empathy and grace while at the same time impart knowledge and wisdom. That’s called great teaching.”

The educational Landscape and Systems Analysis of Washington State study concluded that the Positive Outliers schools “far exceeded the performance and improvement of their peers.” It found that “adults are not the only equity leaders in these schools. Students are the agent of change and take a role in educating their peers and teachers about race."

The study concluded that "these schools demonstrate that it is possible to illuminate the strengths of diverse students and dismantle unproductive systems put in place when the US public school system began."

For more on this study, view:

The full report
The report brief
The 38 schools recognized