Eliminating Opportunity Gaps

Equity in our Schools graphic with photos of students

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 12 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

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

  • 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.
  • 11/16/2016

    Seattle, Highline and Kent School Districts Honor the Multilingualism of Public School Students

    Seattle Public Schools is proud to release its "Speak English AND Your Home Language" video honoring the multilingualism of SPS students. The video, available with subtitles in eight languages plus English, was made in collaboration with Highline Public Schools, the Kent School District and OneAmerica.
  • 11/03/2016

    Pilot Program with The Seattle Public Library Ready to Launch

    Beginning November 7th, The Seattle Public Library is partnering with Seattle Public Schools to run a pilot program called Library Link. This program will automatically provide a library account to students at three middle schools.
  • 10/31/2016

    FPI is Up and Helping

    In a district of over 50,000 students spanning 140 native languages how can you work toward delivering classroom instruction that is tailored to the needs of each and every student? One way is the Formative Practices Institute (FPI) for district teachers.
  • 10/28/2016

    Close The Gaps Campaign Launch Success

    Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Seattle Education Association (SEA) are united in our commitment to the success of every student in every classroom, every day.

    An unwavering commitment to ensuring racial equity in education anchors our work. This commitment was demonstrated last week with the launch of the #CloseTheGaps campaign and highlighted on Wednesday, October 19 as educators across the district led conversations and lessons with their students focused on racial equity and social justice.

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