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November 20, 2020

Kennewick High Recognized for Student Achievement

Kennewick High School has been recognized as one of the highest performing schools in Washington State for students of color and/or students experiencing poverty. It’s the only Tri-Cities school on the list.

This new recognition is part of an ongoing study of schools that are demonstrating the highest performance over the last five years for students in those groups. The study, called “The Educational Landscape and Systems Analysis,” is being conducted by the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

“It’s great to be recognized,” said Ron King, principal of Kennewick High School. “We are a school that’s very much focused on improving opportunities for all of our students. We are continuing with that work and are not resting on our laurels.”

King said Kennewick High’s staff is committed to personalizing the large school – it has more than 1,600 students – as much as possible. Administrators, teachers, counselors, Success Coordinators, Migrant Graduation Specialists and other staff all work together to ensure students succeed and reach graduation.

“There are caring and trusted adults who talk to kids all the time about ways to achieve, to get back in the game, to find ways to overcome obstacles,” King said.

He added that, “I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that this is a recognition of the students’ success. We’re doing things as a district and a school to help students, but it’s their success.”

CEE analyzed more than 2,100 schools in Washington as part of its study, and it has invited 38 schools – including Kennewick High – to move into Phase 2. CEE’s analysis found that students of color and students experiencing poverty in those 38 schools perform significantly above similar students in other schools across the state. Phase 2 of the study will determine how Kennewick High and the other schools are getting those results, including examining the programs, practices and systems that are contributing to their success. 

Greg Lobdell, project research director and CEE chief research officer, said Kennewick High and the other schools invited to move into Phase 2 represent the “pinnacle of performance.”

“While other studies have considered only test scores, this study recognizes that students, and student performance, are more than simply test scores.  The study considered seven measures of performance: attendance, progress for English Learners, English-Language Arts performance, mathematics performance, readiness for high school, high school course rigor (obtaining college credits), and graduation rates.  In comparing performance across all schools in Washington State, we are seeing these 38 schools as beating the odds,” he said.

John Steach, CEE CEO and project researcher, added that, “Phase 2 represents the critical phase of the project. Determining how this is happening within the context of Washington State can provide a blue-print of promising practices, programs, and systems for others to study and possibly implement in their districts.”