Schools explore creative ways to improve scores


FRENCH CREEK  — Local elementary schools are being innovative in their work to address low scores in English/language arts and math on the state assessment.

At the recent meeting of the board of education hosted at French Creek, staff members from the host school and Rock Cave shared what they are doing in their classrooms.

French Creek Elementary’s general summative assessment showed growth in mathematics across all grade levels. Third grade increased in English and language arts but fourth and fifth grade scores decreased.

Faculty senate president Adrienne McVey said, “Clearly our assessment results are not where we strive to be; however we did experience overall growth in most of the areas with the exception of English and language arts.

“We have our next steps of how we are addressing those areas. We are using the early dismissal days for professional learning communities to provide opportunities to discuss sharing of strategies and ideas that we can address our areas of weaknesses. Also having the monthly  team allowing for grade level teachers to collaborate with teachers above and below them, title 1 and special education teachers.

“Teachers and administrators are looking closely at our walk through and IPI data. Our goal is to increase that academic engagement and higher order thinking skills so looking at that and ways we can improve that so we have the higher level of engagement we can have in our classrooms.”

French Creek fully implemented the Fundations program in K-2.

“As we were analyzing our test data we saw we have gaps in phonics and phonetic awareness so implementing those with K, 1 and  2 were seeing big improvement in those skills. We are hopeful that these kids who move up through the upper grades that we will see improvement in those areas.”

One of Rock Cave’s goals this year is to improve its school-wide proficiency in English and language arts to 40 percent for grades third through fifth and 30 percent in math for grades third-fifth grade, to 67 percent for erly lit for kindergarten through first grade, 55 percent for reading in second grade and 65 percent for math in first and second grade.

Principal Amanda Craig said Rock Cave is also working on increasing its student engagement in the classroom.

“We know we don’t have the level of engagement with students that we need to so that is an area of focus we are working on not just as a staff but when we have IPI,” she said. “We are working with Washington District and Hodgesville so we are switching teachers back and forth to come in. We need to strengthen our stations. When students appear to be working independently, some are and some aren’t. We are really trying to focus on what we can be doing better through day-to-day activities that we keep them engaged and also through self-regulated monitoring.

Rock Cave Elementary is using Context for Learning in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“I initially had purchased for third, fourth and fifth because those were the grade-level teachers that went to that training,” she said. “They were excited about it and wanted to use it. When we had our academy as a staff in August, they presented that information to everybody else and did a lot of activities so everybody else got excited about it.”

Craig then purchased enough for K-2.

Title 1 is also being utilized differently in the building.

Kindergarten first and second grade are using a Fundations program that is building phonetics and foundational skills.

The Title 1 teacher is working with kids on the bubble who are almost where they need to be in hopes that they can be brought up to speed and then other groups can be addressed, according to Craig.

Goal setting is also another big push to help students.

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