Excerpts from the following article appeared in the Ann Arbor [MI] News (10-10-05):
"Just a few short years ago, students at Ypsilanti's Erickson Elementary School were receiving failing marks from the state in math, reading and writing.
"Those marks, as measured by the Michigan Education Assessment Program, have improved enough today for Erickson students to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act….
"Principal Kevin Carney said it took some outside-of-the-box thinking to improve the test scores at Erickson.
"‘Our kids were writing well,’ Carney said. ‘But they were not writing descriptively enough or organizing their thoughts well. So we began to use graphic organizers, such as a writing web, to give students visual steps to help organize their thoughts.’…
"Besides the web, students are writing more papers in which they must use persuasive skills to make their arguments.
"Carney credited the turnaround in writing and other subjects to his teachers.
"‘Their commitment has been very strong,’ he said. ‘I'm pleased their hard work has paid off.’…
"Dave Northrup, principal at Lincoln's Redner Elementary, described similar steps. One key was to more closely align school curriculum to the MEAP.
"‘We made adjustments based on what the state wanted,’ Northrup said….
"In terms of reading, Redner students were required to read for 20 minutes three nights each week at home. Northrup said the program was based on a simple concept. ‘The best way to improve reading skills is to read.’"
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