Monday, August 27, 2012
DEFIANT: Ogden School District Education Revolution Succeeds
The Ogden School District is not new to controversy. Last year saw a contentious contract dispute as administrators placed performance pay provisions in the new working agreement with teachers. All the teachers except one agreed to the new contract. Also, last year we saw Superintendent Zabriskie depart and Superintendent Smith step up to the helm of the district. At that time, some in the community questioned his ability.
I had my first opportunity to meet Superintendent Smith when he invited to me to tour Dee Elementary school last year. He was showcasing a new revolutionary approach OSD was taking to improve historically low student performance. I was completely impressed by what I saw then. You can read about what I saw during that tour. At that time, I crossed my fingers and hoped that the risks the district were taking would pay dividends.
As it turns out, they did, and huge. Here are the results of the Ogden program:
Keep in mind that, last year, these three schools were ranked among the ten worst schools in the state. I am proud to say that that onerous distinction now no longer applies.
Also, keep in mind that these amazing results have occurred in just one school year. The program will be entering its second year this Fall. The district plans to build on this foundation of success and student performance should continue its upward trajectory. They are truly taking these schools from worst to first.
Another example of Ogden School District achievement is represented in their student graduation rates:
As you can see, Ogden High School ranks with Bountiful, Weber, and Fremont high schools. Both Ben Lomond and Ogden High Schools beat their Salt Lake City counterparts (East, West, and Highland HS) despite the fact that they are demographically very similar.
Ogden School District has made uncomfortable personnel changes, changed patterns in teaching, and adopted practices that are ultra-focused on getting results. These results have not come easily, but the difference it is making is absolutely worth it.
I want to thank Superintendent Smith, and members of the school board Joyce Wilson, Don Belnap, Jennifer Zundel, Steven Marker, Jeff Heiner, Shane Story, and Jeff Harris. Their willingness to move mountains has made Ogden a better place.