The gap between the standardized test scores in language arts of Caucasian students and Native American students has closed from 53 percent in 2002 to 41 percent in 2007, the latest year for which testing results were available.
School administrators state that the test scores are the result of a team effort across the district.
Closing the achievement gap between students of different cultures is a nationwide effort that extends far beyond the San Juan School District. While the challenge exists everywhere, it has been of great concern locally.
In 2002, 85 percent of Caucasian students “passed” proficiency tests for language arts, while just 32 percent of Native American students met the same standard. The 53 percent gap between these groups has steadily fallen in the subsequent years.
In 2007, the percent of Caucasian students passing the test remained at 85 percent, while the percent of Native American students increased to 44 percent. The gap has closed from 53 to 41 percent.
School officials recently presented the achievement gap information to officials from the Navajo Nation. In addition, the report shows that ten of the 12 schools in the district have met the provisions of No Child Left Behind. This represents one of the highest percentages of “passing” schools in the Four Corners region.
School officials are pleased with the results, but state that the overall performance of students in the district continues to be an ongoing concern.
Bluff Elementary School received special recognition for Closing the Achievement Gap in two areas: Ethnic Minority and School as a Whole. Out of approximately 200 Title I schools in Utah, Bluff was among three schools that were selected for this prestigious award based upon the No Child Left Behind law and students scoring at or above the state average on the language arts and math test.
Bluff Principal Monique McDermott said, “The teachers, community members and school district have made it possible to raise academic achievement. At times even our custodian and administrative assistant have listened to students read.
“Bluff Elementary cannot overlook the incredible advocacy from the community in helping with fund raising events and student learning. San Juan School District has been very supportive of our programs and goals.
Monticello High School also reports a number of successes. Chase Randall, a senior at the school, has recently been accepted into both West Point and Air Force military academies.
An appointment into the academies requires a recommendation from a Congressional leader. Randall was recommended by all three Congressmen, including Senators Orrin Hatch and Robert Bennett and Representative Jim Matheson.
Now comes the hard part for Randall, deciding what to do.
In addition, a number of eighth grade students at Monticello High School scored in the top ten percent of the nation in recent Iowa tests.
They include Ryan Black, Shaylyn Black, Anna DeMille, Van Demille, Jake Duncan, Nash Freestone, Gunnar Hollingsworth, Mikaela Hughes, Zach Johnson, Kayla McArthur, Toni Torres, Haley Walk and Justin Wright.
Schools throughout the San Juan School District are holding Spelling Bees in anticipation of the district, regional and national spelling bees.