Posts Tagged ‘Schools Improvement Grant’

Zac Cummin, Rudolph Old Crow Jr. and Henry Speelman Jr. eat lunch at Lodge Grass High School recently. (Bob Zellar/Billings Gazette)

Zac Cummin, Rudolph Old Crow Jr. and Henry Speelman Jr. eat lunch at Lodge Grass High School recently. (Bob Zellar/Billings Gazette)

This story is the first in a two-part series by Lorna Thackeray of the Billings (Mont.) Gazette. It points out the shameful fact that the worst-performing high schools in Montana are on Indian reservations. And it talks about what’s being done to change that:

Montana Superintendent of Schools Denise Juneau (Bob Zellar/Billings Gazette)

Montana Superintendent of Schools Denise Juneau (Bob Zellar/Billings Gazette)

There is no glory for the five high schools on the bottom of Montana’s academic ladder — except perhaps on the basketball court.

It won’t come as a shock to most that the lowest-ranking schools in the state are in isolated communities on Indian reservations, that the students are among the most economically disadvantaged or that the schools have been failing students for years.

What may be a surprise is that they are all in Eastern Montana. From the bottom up, according to proficiency scores reported by the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI), they are Hays-Lodge Pole with 13.2 percent of its students at or above proficient levels; Lodge Grass High School, with 14.4 percent; Frazer High School with 15 percent; Plenty Coups High School in Pryor at 15.5 percent; and Lame Deer High School at 17.8 percent.

For comparison, Wolf Point High School was at 45.9 percent; Harlem High School was at 48 percent; Hardin High School was at 54.6 percent; and Billings Senior was at 71 percent. (Like the lowest-ranking schools, all are Title 1 schools.)

Graduation rates are equally abysmal. In 2009, the rate at Frazer was 61.5 percent. It was 60 percent at Hays-Lodge Pole; 39 percent at Lame Deer; 52.1 percent at Lodge Grass; and 74.1 percent at Plenty Coups.

Each school struggles in its own way, but there is one constant, said Denise Juneau, Montana superintendent of schools. Poverty.

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