Cedar Heights Junior High listed as ‘Focus School’

Last week, Cedar Heights was announced as 133 “Focus Schools” in the state by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Cedar Heights Junior High already is working toward an academic restructuring.

And principal Andrew Cain believes a grant only will enhance that.

Last week, Cedar Heights was announced as 133 “Focus Schools” in the state by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). According to OSPI, those schools had an average proficiency rate in reading and math combined during the last three years of 13.58 percent or worse in at least one subgroup. Cain said he has not been provided with specific data, but Cedar Heights’ designation for focus during the 2015-16 school year is for students with disabilities.

Cain said part of the expectation for the grant, which provided Cedar Heights with $20,000 in state funds last year, was to restructure the school’s curriculum.

“That’s what has driven part of our move to becoming an International Baccalaureate school because part of that is the instructional emphasis on inquiry, integration and application we believe will help raise an increasing number of kids who are able to meet standard,” said Cain, adding that the school has about 25 seventh-graders and 30 eighth-graders that are classified as special needs. “It’s enabling us to provide staff with some training, planning and instructional practices. We’re looking at our systems to make sure we’re providing the interventions and enrichments.”

Cedar Heights is among four schools within the South Kitsap School District — Hidden Creek and Orchard Heights elementary schools and South Kitsap High School are the others — that are in the first year of attempting to gain International Baccalaureate accreditation.

Those were not the only changes implemented at Cedar Heights. There now is an after-school program to provide tutoring for struggling students. Those students, along with others, then are bused home.

“You get these extra resources that allows us to broaden what we do for all,” Cain said.

But he said that is only part of the equation.

“We want to give interventions, but we want to make sure whatever we do gets all the way back to the classroom with the individual teachers and individual students because that’s where the gains happen,” said Cain, adding that he believes increased training has enhanced that.

Cedar Heights was not the only SKSD school that did not meet No Child Left Behind’s “Adequate Yearly Progress.” Others, such as Orchard Heights and Sidney Glen elementary schools, are under sanctions, which apply only to schools receiving federal Title I funds, which are allocated to schools with at least 40 percent of students enrolled in free- and reduced-price lunch programs. But Cedar Heights was the only SKSD school that received funds through the grant process.

“While some of the legislation is interesting, we’re not going to let it be an excuse,” Cain said. “We can get better from this. We have extra resources because of it and let’s continue building a great school.”