Ogden School District had five schools that ranked in the bottom 10: Dee School, James Madison, Thomas O. Smith, Gramercy and Odyssey.
"Ogden is a very different from other districts," said Greg Lewis, Odgen School District's executive director of curriculum and instruction. "There is no one even close to our demographics, and we have areas of very deep poverty. That's the real issue in Ogden."
Last year, Odgen had 77 percent of its students on free and reduced lunch, a mobility rate of nearly 35 percent and 52 percent minority students. It also had 4.6 percent of its students listed as homeless.
"The parents in these areas are good parents," Lewis said. "They care about their kids and want the best for them, but they are very busy. A lot are working two jobs — some of the kids have never been on the freeway, let alone Salt Lake. They just haven't had experience, so their vocabulary is very limited."
Yet most of the Ogden schools listed in the bottom ten jumped at least 10 percent in their proficiency rates from 2009. And while just 30 percent of Ogden kindergartners were at grade level when they came to school last year, 90 percent were at benchmark by the end of the year, Lewis said. Three of the lowest performing schools in the Ogden School District have also gotten a $4.9 million School Improvement Grant to use over three years that has already helped the schools implement new practices, bring in tutors, new principals, add more instruction time to core subjects and have more professional training for its teachers.
"While most of these schools are scoring low, they are making progress," Lewis said.
Many schools around the state are currently finishing up the 2011 state tests, and John Jesse, assessment director for the state, said parents should have a frank conversation with their children about how well they did when the test scores come out.
"We're kind of afraid in our society about confronting students on their abilities and their efforts and achievements," Jesse said. "But ultimately, who's really going to change what students know and are able to do? Who's really going to control that? The student. Realistically, what can the parent control? They can help improve their school, and they can most improve their school by improving what their student can do."
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