Eliminating Opportunity Gaps

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Seattle Public Schools Eliminating Opportunity Gaps

“Eliminating opportunity gaps and ensuring educational excellence for each and every student is the issue of our time.”

~ Superintendent Larry Nyland

In the 2016-17 school year, we continue our commitment to eliminating opportunity gaps across our district.

Seattle Public Schools is leading the way to prepare students for college, career and life. For the last ten years, we have consistently outperformed the state’s academic average and often perform better than similar districts nationwide. Many of our students are ready for success in life and are well prepared for college and careers that require a strong mastery of content, innovation and creativity.

However, while we are making significant progress, our promise to some has not been fulfilled. Seattle Public Schools, despite making promising progress continues to have unacceptable achievement gaps between white students and students of color.

The good news is that since 2011, the number of gap eliminating schools has increased. We now have eight schools that are rapidly increasing achievement for students we have not historically served well. These schools have a common foundation and approach.

They are focused on:

  • data driven decisions;
  • matching the right support and interventions to student need;
  • teachers collaborating to innovate and problem solve;
  • supporting leadership from strong instruction-focused principals;
  • partners working with staff to provide whole child supports; and
  • teachers’ unwavering belief in their students is reflected in the school culture, the rigor in the classroom and students’ sense of belonging.

Our Work to Eliminate Opportunity Gaps

Staff, families and community partners working together can eliminate opportunity gaps. Our Four Signature Strategies below illustrate how our combined commitment is making that happen.

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Positive Learning

A focus on student strengths, needs and success

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Positive Beliefs

Changing hearts and minds

  • Moratorium on non-violent suspensions
  • Principal development 
  • New employee orientation
  • Equity and race teams 
  • On demand 24/7 professional development
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Positive Relationships

A caring adult for every student

  • Whole child support: RULER, Positive Behavior Intervention Support
  • Trauma Informed Learning
  • District-wide professional development focused on relationships
  • My Brother’s Keeper: Success Mentors Summer Institute
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Positive Partnerships

Engaging families and community partners

Related News

  • 02/21/2017

    Substitutes Prepare for Culturally Responsive Teaching

    Eliminating opportunity gaps is the issue of our time. Under the leadership of Superintendent Nyland, the entire school district is focused on developing strategies to ensure each student is known, challenged, and supported. Substitute teachers are taking up this challenge with culturally responsive teaching.

  • 02/21/2017

    District Holds Teach-in on Making Classrooms Safe and Inclusive for All Students

    Every student. Every classroom. Every day. These are the words you’ll find on the cover of the strategic plan for Seattle Public Schools and throughout the district on countless posters. These are not empty words; they are an inspiration for staff and teachers alike as the district strives to eliminate opportunity gaps and provide high-quality instruction.
  • 02/07/2017

    SPS Teachers Tackle Homelessness, Opportunity Gaps with Books

    Books are a powerful thing. Sometimes their words sweep us away to magical, far-away places while other times they scare us and leave us shivering with every turn of the page. Books also bring us together by helping to build intentional partnerships between teachers, students, and communities.
  • 01/23/2017

    Superintendent Nyland Supports National Day of Racial Healing

    Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Superintendent Larry Nyland, joined the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, and 130 other organizations across the country to support the National Day of Racial Healing held last Tuesday.
  • 11/18/2016

    Successful Strategies to Eliminating Opportunity Gaps Focal Point of State of the District

    The 2016 State of the District drew hundreds of attendees on November 7, 2016. Moving at a lively pace, the event alternated between updates on progress, examples of success and challenges, and student performance.

    The emcee, Zachary Stowell, Assistant Principal of Catherine Blaine K-8 explained that the State of the District event was “about telling the story of Seattle Public Schools, students and the community; a story of hope, social justice and a commitment to ensure that every single student in our thriving city is successful.”

  • 11/17/2016

    SPS Joins Mayor Murray Education Summit

    Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland and School Board President Betty Patu joined Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Thursday, to present a set of recommendations aimed at ensuring all Seattle students are set up for academic success and post-secondary education and careers, with an emphasis on improving outcomes for African Americans/Black students.
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