The following articles from newspapers in three states (Foster’s Daily Democrat, NH; West Proviso Herald, IL; New Orleans Times-Picayune, LA) highlighted measures schools are taking to improve their academic performance.
While Kids Are Out, School is Still In, In Somersworth (Foster’s Daily Democrat, NH, 8-17)
"While youngsters are out enjoying their summer vacation, inside the city’s schools work continues on Somersworth High School accreditation and on federal education testing requirements.
"In the high school, teachers are working to draft rubrics, scoring mechanisms which the accreditation team listed as an area to improve. Work is also being done on the math curriculum, an area where students have not met standards in the past.
"In the elementary and middle school, teachers are working to align curriculum with the new Grade Level Expectancies, which came with the switch to a new style of No Child Left Behind testing. The alignment will allow teachers to know when to teach different areas, to allow for better test performance.
"Some students are also working hard in summer school. A total of 67 students participated in the summer Bridges to Success program, with only one failing to complete the program, which allows students to make up failing grades during the previous year. Superintendent Karen Soule said the program was a big success.
"Work was also done on the district’s new mentor training program. Mentors for all beginning or second-year teachers new to Somersworth were given mentors, which will provide them with systematic ongoing support throughout their first year of teaching. This program was started to help retain teachers and to limit teacher turnover."
District Turns Teachers Into Students (West Proviso Herald, IL, 8-17)
"Student improvement is prefaced by teacher improvement. That’s the theory that Bellwood School District 88 has been following, and it appears to be working.
"The district has been working on various professional development programs for its teachers to improve their craft, and last fall’s Illinois Standards Achievement Test scores led to the removal of Lincoln Elementary from the State Warning List….
"Part of the improvement plan in District 88, as prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act, is professional development.
"Started last year through an Illinois Reading First grant, District 88 again invited teachers back for a three-day seminar called the Teacher Literacy Institute.
"All 180 teachers in the district were invited to the volunteer program, including pre-kindergarten instructors, said Linda Fischer, District 88’s literacy coordinator and organizer of the institute.
"Teachers were shown recent data and given tips on how to make reading more interesting and tangible. Games and hands-on lesson ideas were also part of the program. Each participant got $100 in vouchers for new books for his or her classroom….
"The Literacy Institute was a completely volunteer function, but teachers seemed to jump at the opportunity, Fischer said. ‘Word got around and people were so excited about it,’ Fischer said, noting that twice as many teachers volunteered this year -- 78 -- than last year. That 78 is nearly half of the 180 teachers in the district.
"Many of the individuals at the institute, held at Wilson School, were repeat attendees…. One of the repeat participants was Helen Metanchuk, a first-grade teacher at Wilson….
"‘I came here last year and it was extremely full of information and things we can use,’ Metanchuk said. ‘It’s worthwhile. We get to do things that are useful for our classrooms.’"
For the complete article, log onto http://www.pioneerlocal.com/cgi-bin/ppo-story/
Bonnabel Targets English Learners (New Orleans Times-Picayune, LA, 8-17)
"Under pressure from state and federal education reforms, the 2005-06 school year at Alfred T. Bonnabel High School in Kenner will bring increased attention to students learning to speak English as their second language, officials said.
"The English language learners at Bonnabel, a group of about 300, failed to show the progress on standardized tests needed to satisfy the goals of school accountability reforms.
"That landed Bonnabel on the list of schools that must let students transfer, an option open to all of Bonnabel’s 1,600 students, not just the students studying English as a second language…. Principal Ray Ferrand said Bonnabel…met its improvement target for the school's overall population….
"Last year, Bonnabel's English learners showed acceptable growth under the plan, but its special education students slipped, so the school intensified its efforts with the special education students. Tutoring increased and other students mentored those with disabilities. Teachers organized their classrooms to allow more one-on-one attention, and the entire school launched a program to encourage reading….
"After classes resume on Monday, Ferrand said, Bonnabel will try several academic strategies to assist students learning to speak English, including seeking more teacher assistants to help the students follow lessons, increasing tutoring and involving the students in the school's growing career academy program."
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