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August 18, 2003, Extra Credit
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August 18, 2003
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 August 15
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Muscatine, Iowa Schools Identified For Improvement Make Changes And Increase Student Achievement
Last year, Jefferson Elementary and Franklin Elementary in Muscatine, Iowa were identified by the state as schools in need of improvement. In response, the schools made significant adjustments to the way they were teaching and student performance increased to the point that the schools are no longer on the list. Following is an excerpt from the Des Moines Register's coverage of the schools' efforts to improve:

"Teachers attended classes to improve their teaching strategies and learned how to work with at-risk students. Students spent more of the school day on reading and math. Educators began using test results and other data to improve instruction. Principals took an active role in instruction and monitoring students' progress.

"The district changed the way it taught reading.

"'We were fragmented in how we taught reading,' [Muscatine Superintendent Thomas Williams] said. 'We have 110 (classes) in our elementary schools, and every teacher had their own idea on how best to teach reading. They weren't bad ideas - we just didn't have standardized best practices in Muscatine.'

"Educators decided on 12 reading strategies. They developed an instructional calendar of when each strategy would be taught. The strategies, which varied by grade level, included finding the main idea in a paragraph or story, figuring out the sequence of events in a story, and understanding differences between fact and opinion.

"Developing an instructional calendar helped ensure that students who moved to different schools in Muscatine during the year wouldn't have gaps in their learning, Williams said.

"Teachers also changed the way they taught math. Instead of introducing a new concept and working on it with students for a week before moving to another concept, teachers continually reviewed the concept until students mastered it.

"The district increased the number of tests and quizzes given to students during the year. If test results showed one or more students didn't understand a concept, teachers worked with them until they did, Williams said."

The full article is available from the Des Moines Register online archive for a fee.

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

If you would like the NCLB Extra Credit emailed to you, please send a request to Geoff Goodman at NoChildLeftBehindUpdate@ed.gov or call (202) 205-9191.

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