Award Year: 2017
Washington is a Core Knowledge school where children build a solid foundation of essential knowledge, skills, and character which develops well-educated citizens and continuous learners.
- Black/African American: 6%
- White: 70%
- Hispanic: 5%
- Asian: 12%
- Native American: 1%
- Two or more races: 6%
- ELL: 4%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 38%
Entrance to Washington Elementary in Rochester, MN
Washington School is one of five elementary "district-wide" programs in the Rochester Public Schools, a large and diverse district serving approximately 17,500 students in southeastern Minnesota. As an alternative to the curriculum offered in our district's neighborhood schools, Washington's curriculum is based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, a solid, sequential body of factual information that balances content with high expectations for mastery of reading, writing, math, and technology skills. Core Knowledge helps our school achieve its mission: "to inspire, challenge, and empower all students with the knowledge and skills required to reach their full potential to contribute to future generations, and to become involved members of a global community." Core Knowledge is a rich and rigorous body of information in American and world history, geography, science, literature, music and art that builds through the grades to become a solid foundation for life-long learning. The engaging content of exciting historical events, fascinating experiences in nature, magnificent works of art and music, and beautifully-crafted classic literature captivates students' imaginations and provides models for their own creative expression.
Washington serves approximately 360 students in single-grade classrooms, kindergarten through fifth grade. Our curriculum, small school size, low student and staff mobility, focused learning environment, collaborative relationships, academic culture, and strong home-school connections provide a unique mix of essential elements that foster high student achievement and a "thirst for knowledge."
With very few exceptions, students who begin school at Washington as kindergartners stay and complete six years of education through the fifth grade. The size and stability of student and staff populations promotes a focused and productive learning environment that includes accountability, familiarity, and meaningful academic and personal histories. In addition to strong and supportive relationships, the character education program helps provide a school environment that is orderly, respectful and productive. The focus at Washington is on learning.
As a Professional Learning Community, the highly-qualified staff at Washington is deeply committed to delivering the curriculum content and continuously improving instruction. Teachers continually study and align state, district, Core Knowledge, and testing requirements to determine the scope and sequence of instruction. This process results in a deep understanding of curriculum content and high expectations for student achievement. Formative and summative assessment data are analyzed at team, staff, and site leadership meetings and shared holistically at Site Council meetings to monitor student progress, provide differentiated educational opportunities, and ensure high academic achievement for all students.
Members of the Washington learning community have formed very effective collaborative working relationships that reach from home to school and across grade levels to support and address the needs of students. Our school is guided by our Site Leadership, a group of staff who create, promote, and monitor our site goals, develop our measurement and reporting plan, assess our professional development needs and seek feedback from all staff on the resources and support needed to effectively meet our goals. We also have a Site Council, a group of elected parents and teachers who monitor by-laws and provide assistance and feedback to the entire school community. Students are involved in measuring their learning progress and they are held responsible for completing their learning tasks. Parents are informed about school activities and expectations through newsletters, conferences, report cards, websites, Twitter, Facebook and long-range curriculum plans. They are expected to support the students' completion of regular homework assignments. Parents also have a strong presence as volunteers in the classrooms, as facilitators of enrichment and extracurricular activities (Math Masters, Foreign Language Club, Enrichment Club, Family Fun events), and through participation in PTA activities. The strong home to school connection at Washington supports a culture where achievement is valued and learning is celebrated.