CENTENNIAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Mt. Vernon, Washington
Migrant workers from Mexico were partially responsible for a shift in Centennial Elementaryís student population.
Centennial Elementary School is located in the quiet community of Mt. Vernon, Washington, which lies in the Skagit Valley between the Cascade Mountains and the Puget Sound. Due in part to its proximity to Seattle, 60 miles to the south, Mt. Vernon has grown rapidly in recent years. However, this town of 27,060 remains bucolic, and relies heavily on the farming of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
The agricultural industry was responsible for a major shift in Mt. Vernonís demographics. Migrant workers traditionally came to Mt. Vernon for seasonal work, but in the late 1980ís and early 1990ís, companies started to help workers with housing, and they began to live in the area year round. As a result, the Mt. Vernon School District has experienced a significant shift in the needs of the children they teach. At Centennial, the percentage of Hispanic children has increased steadily, from 33% in 1997 to 54% in 2003. The percentage of children on the free and reduced lunch program jumped from 50% in 1997 to 72% in 2003.
As the schoolís demographics shifted, its test scores fell. In 1997, only 49.5% of Centennial students met state reading standards. But after adopting Success for All in 1999 to help them address the needs of their changing student population, reading scores started to climb. In 2004, 74% of children met state reading standards. Centennial also saw a remarkable jump in math scores. Only 23% of children met the state math standards in 1997. By 2004, that number more than doubled to 56.6 percent.
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