In Tacoma, we have a shining example of what public education can accomplish, even when faced with the thorniest problems. It’s called the Lincoln Center, and its story should be a model for how we move forward to improve schools around the state.
In 2007, 17 percent of incoming freshmen at Lincoln High School had met middle-school standards in math. Thirty-three percent had met standards in reading. Clearly, something had to be done.
The Lincoln Center was created, a school within a school. Students attend an extended day, from 7:35 a.m. to 5 p.m. They attend summer school and even go to school on Saturdays sometimes. The results were dramatic. Within a semester, the achievement gap between white students and students of color had vanished. Today, more than 90 percent of the class of 2012 is on track to graduate, compared with about 60 percent of their peers at Lincoln High.
Adding more than 500 hours of class time to the school year may seem extreme, but it’s the kind of flexibility we need to make sure all students in Washington are prepared for work and life.