Educating Our Youth
The Initiative will have an initial emphasis on a specific, natural, and ongoing population of neighborhood young people – the pre-school children who will attend Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, and the children already attending Bailey Gatzert, who later feed into Washington Middle School and Garfield High School. This focused approach prevents the Youth Initiative from being overly dispersed in its efforts, and over-promising regarding measurable outcomes for neighborhood youth and their families. By following students as they move up the educational ladder, it is more likely that the Initiative will be able to grow organically in its ability to contribute to these students’ academic, social and family needs, and respond to a gradually increasing population.
Bailey Gatzert Elementary School
Bailey Gatzert has an enrollment of 324 students. With 94% of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch, the number of children enrolled at Bailey Gatzert who are from families living at or below the poverty level is one of the highest in the Seattle school system (Seattle Public Schools). In 2009, 42% of Gatzert students were African American, 25% Latino, 22% Asian, 9% Caucasian, and 2% American Indian. Nearly 60% of the children attending Bailey Gatzert were English Language Learners (Bailey Gatzert Annual Report, 2009).
Gatzert has a number of academic and enrichment programs for its students. Academic programs include Readers Workshop, Writers Workshop, Write from the Beginning, Inquiry Based Science, Everyday Math, and 90 Minute Reading Blocks. Enrichment activities explore sports, music, culinary arts and environmental awareness. In addition to its many academic, enrichment, and other support programs, Bailey Gatzert has several community partnerships with other organizations, businesses, and non-profits in the community (Bailey Gatzert Annual Report, 2009).
Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) scores for Bailey Gatzert illustrate the school’s academic challenges. At the close of the 2008-2009 academic year, students at Gatzert were performing far below state and district levels in reading, math and science. Greg Imel, Principal of Bailey Gatzert, believes his students academic performance can improve by focusing on reading, writing, math, and family involvement (Imel, 2009).
Achievement Gap in the Neighborhood
In addition to Bailey Gatzert’s WASL data detailed above, low-income youth attending Washington Middle School (WMS) and Garfield High School (GHS) perform at alarmingly lower levels compared with their non low-income peers. For example, 95% of sixth grade students at WMS who are considered non low-income were reading at grade level compared to 57% of low-income students. Similarly, 93% of sixth graders who were not considered low-income were performing at grade level in math compared to 49% of their low-income peers. The significant and troubling gap in academic achievement between low-income and non low-income students is also present at Garfield High School, particularly in areas of math and science (Washington State OSPI, 2009).