Vancouver Sch. Dist.
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News Releases
Community invited to tour public schools - 10/17/19

Community members are invited to tour two public schools on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. The Visit VPS tour will take guests to Skyview High School and Salmon Creek Elementary. Highlights will include:

Skyview

  • College preparation activities
  • Computer science class
  • Student leaders planning ways to mentor younger students
  • Use of an online learning platform to achieve the credits required to graduate

Salmon Creek

  • Grammar instruction adapted to meet the needs of all students
  • Coding lesson
  • Social-emotional lesson
  • Closing achievement gaps

The tour will begin and end at the Bates Center for Educational Leadership, 2921 Falk Rd. The tour is from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests have the option of enjoying a student musical performance and meal prepared by culinary arts students. Lunch is available for $5 per person.

Everyone is welcome, but space is limited. Advance registration is required. Sign up online to reserve a spot.

Todd Horenstein announces retirement from Vancouver Public Schools - 10/14/19

Assistant superintendent’s retirement decision and central office budget reductions prompt changes in administrative personnel

Longtime VPS administrator Todd Horenstein, who joined Vancouver Public Schools in 1984, has announced his intent to retire from the district in August 2020. As assistant superintendent for facility support services, he has served as the lead administrator in four phases of school construction and renovation projects totaling nearly $1 billion of facility improvements. Additionally, during his tenure he has overseen other support services, including the district’s maintenance, transportation and safety departments. He also has managed collaborative planning processes, established partnerships between the district and community organizations and provided other executive leadership support.

“Todd Horenstein’s contributions to Vancouver Public Schools cannot be overstated,” said Mark Stoker, VPS board president. “We owe him our heartfelt gratitude for dedicating his career to creating future-ready school facilities.”

In preparation for Horenstein’s retirement, VPS is re-organizing some of its executive-level leadership positions. Subject to board action, the following personnel changes also are related to the consolidation of duties necessary after five central office administrator positions were eliminated to help balance the district’s budget for 2019-20.

  • Dr. Mike Stromme, associate superintendent for administrative services, will be promoted to deputy superintendent. Stromme’s oversight responsibilities will include curriculum, instruction and assessment; school operations; and instructional technology services. He will continue to provide leadership of the district in the number two position.
  • Brett Blechschmidt, assistant superintendent and chief fiscal officer, will be promoted to associate superintendent and chief operating officer. Blechschmidt’s oversight responsibilities will include fiscal, human resources, nutrition, transportation, maintenance and facility support services.
  • A.J. Panter, director of operations, maintenance and transportation, will be promoted to executive director of facility support services. Panter’s oversight responsibilities will include maintenance and transportation services. He also will lead the bond-funded construction and renovation projects after Horenstein retires.

“I appreciate the willingness of Mike Stromme, Brett Blechschmidt and A.J. Panter to take on broader leadership roles,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “We’re committed to providing high levels of service to our schools and community with fewer resources in central administration.”

New national study shows VPS outperforms most comparable districts - 10/11/19

Vancouver schools provide better educational opportunities, faster growth in learning

According to a recently released national study, Vancouver Public Schools provides higher than average educational opportunities while children are in school and higher rates of student learning growth in a single year compared to other districts with similar socioeconomic status. An analysis of achievement gaps in every school in America shows poverty as the biggest hurdle. This study by Stanford University finds that racial segregation matters, because black and Hispanic students are concentrated in high-poverty schools.

Sean Reardon and former and current colleagues at Stanford authored “Is Separate still Unequal? New Evidence on School Segregation and Racial Academic Achievement Gaps.” They analyzed 350 million test scores from 2009 to 2016, representing about 50 million students as they attended public schools from third to eighth grades. To ensure a fair comparison, scores from different state tests were converted to a single national yardstick. 

Says Reardon about test scores, “The average test scores that kids have in schools or school districts are the results of all the opportunities these kids have had to learn their whole lives, at home, in the neighborhood, in preschool and in the school year,” Reardon said, “So it’s misleading to attribute average test scores solely to the school where they take the test.”

“If you want to know how good the schools are,” Reardon said, “a better but not perfect measure would be the learning rates because those are measuring how fast kids are learning while they’re in school, regardless of where they started.”

According to the Stanford study:

  • Vancouver School District provides higher than average educational opportunities while children are in school. 
  • Vancouver’s student learning growth rates in a single year are 14 percent higher than districts across the country with similar socioeconomic status.
  • Vancouver’s standardized test scores are at the national average for all students and higher than districts with similar socioeconomic status in the U.S.

“Here’s what we know,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “If we can close opportunity and expectation gaps at home and school, we can close achievement gaps in our schools. I'm proud of the collective achievement by our students, staff, families and district partners. Our whole village, whole child, community schools and instructional quality initiatives are transforming students’ lives.”

In 2018, Vancouver’s on-time graduation rate was 85 percent. The rate of improvement in Vancouver Public Schools is outpacing the rest of the state. 

Over the past four years, VPS’ rate of improvement for on-time graduation was:

  • Nearly three times the rate of improvement for all students in the state
  • Three times the rate of improvement for low-income students in the state
  • One-and-a-half times the rate of improvement for English learners in the state
  • Three times the rate of improvement of students with disabilities in the state
  • Nearly eight times the rate of improvement of students with 504 plans in the state