We have much to look forward to in the coming school year in Kennewick as we open the doors at Cottonwood Elementary, welcome students back to a completely remodeled Canyon View Elementary and begin renovating Southgate Elementary.
These projects are part of the district's 10-year facilities plan that will improve the learning environment not only for students in the new and remodeled schools, but also across the district by alleviating overcrowded classrooms in our elementary schools.
Even more exciting is the work happening inside our walls. In the coming year, we will continue to place increased attention on math and science education.
Our district is well known for its focus on reading. This is based on our conviction that reading is the gateway skill that students must master in order to be successful in life.
In 1996, we instituted the goal of having 90 percent of all students reading at grade level by the end of third grade. At the time, many said this wasn't possible.
After all, many students come to us from homes in which English is not the primary language. Some of our students have learning disabilities or contend with issues such as poverty or moving from school to school. We have demonstrated we can catch these students up to read at grade level. In 2006, we attained the 90 percent goal and have been at 89 percent and 88 percent the past three years. This year, the school board approved a new 90 percent math goal that sets a challenging yet attainable target of student achievement for students K-12.
As we have worked toward meeting the reading goal, we've become adept at using diagnostic testing to pinpoint areas in which individual students struggle and then providing additional instruction time in that area.
We've learned to seek out the best curriculum and put it in the hands of our teachers. We've made commitments to ongoing professional development and collaboration time for teachers to enable them to meet the needs of all students. We will apply all these lessons and experiences as we seek to improve our results in math.
In May 2009, the school board approved a new K-12 math curriculum, the culmination of a yearlong process involving teachers, administrators and community members. This year, we have focused on professional development for our math teachers and providing training in the new curriculum. Our math teachers have been meeting this year to develop instructional strategies and common assessments for the curriculum, and they are already implementing those plans.
This year, we will adopt a new science curriculum for students in grades 6-12. Teachers and administrators are working with our partners in the science community to select the curriculum that best aligns with state standards. The proposed materials will be on display for public input and comment in April. Later this year, we will go through the process of teacher training and professional development for the science curriculum as we implement it in September.
In keeping with our 10-year facilities plan, we will open Cottonwood, our 14th elementary school, this fall. While contractors have been at work building the structure, we've been at work building the team. We hired the principal, MaryAnn Kautzky, and we are now posting teaching and classified staff positions. We also will celebrate the completion of a remodeled Canyon View -- the first of five elementary schools over 30 years old with aging infrastructures to receive much-needed renovations.
We are making progress here in the Kennewick School District, both in improving instruction and the learning environment for our students. Given these uncertain times, we are especially thankful to the community for approving our recent school bond and levy.
This support allows us to keep our momentum going with the staff, programs and projects that provide students a well-rounded education with opportunities for individualized learning in a safe environment.
We are honored to be entrusted with the education of the children in our community. We look forward to seeing our seniors walk across the stage at the Toyota Center at their graduation ceremonies in June.