Time for your close-up, Rainier Beach. The long-maligned high school gets national television coverage for a turnaround-in-progress.
Seattle’s Rainier Beach High gets lots of attention, some of it unwanted. But it’s safe to say that in 2010, when the tiny, struggling school began to explore signing with the high-rigor International Baccalaureate program, few there expected to make national news.
Last week, they did.
PBS Newshour, the venerable program known for sober examination of weighty policy, sent a reporter to South Seattle to film its version of a story that appeared in Education Lab last March.
Click on this link to watch.
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After our story ran, some readers expressed doubt that the Beach students—many of whom enter high school with skills far below grade level—were truly performing to IB’s international standards.
In the television piece, coordinator Colin Pierce speaks to that skepticism–and flips it:
“All of our students have had difficulty. All of our students have struggled,” to meet the IB standards, he said. “I think that’s part of the value of it—because they’re not struggling alone. They’re struggling with the support of people who believe they’re going to make it to the other side.”
Results from the end-of-year IB exams are not yet in, but 91 juniors and seniors took those tests, a stunning change from two years ago, when teachers at Beach had to urge kids to reach for the high bar.
Credit for that progress has been heaped on teachers and, of course, their students. But in an essay accompanying the television segment, Pierce notes another group often ignored in the conversation: “We must recognize that we cannot do this successfully without incorporating (students’) families, communities and contexts into their education.”