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Central Elementary ready to meet data-driven challenges

By JANE ERNSBERGER
Times-Junction News Editor

In order to make sure each child at Central Elementary School is learning, administrators and staff members are turning to data to make sure no one falls through the cracks.

After the recent state grade card assessment of school districts and their separate buildings, curriculum director Jennie Smith noted there are plans to bring up both the grade for the building and the students' own abilities.

The State of Ohio keeps data on students who are considered "on track" in their reading, Smith explained. The data also shows students who are not on track. The Literacy Measure is one of the components which makes up the grade for the building.

"For the K-3 literacy measure, the state keeps track of that data," Smith explained. "They will compare the kids in kindergarten that were not on track last year. They will be first graders this year."

In order to come up with a letter grade in literacy, the state will look at both the number of students who have tested to be on track to the number who are not at the reading level they should be for their grade. Smith said the state will add up all of the students and divide to come up with the building's grade for literacy.

"If we have kids once they get to third grade that do not pass the OAA (Ohio Achievement Assessment), they look back to see if they were on a RIMP previously," Smith noted.

A RIMP is a Reading Improvement Monitoring Plan. Smith said that reading plan has to be able to show where a student is deficient. It must also show the interventions that the students would receive to get them on track. If they were previously not on a RIMP, and the student does not pass the OAA, the district gets a double hit against the building's grade from the state.

The double hit, Smith explained comes from the student not passing the OAA and the fact the district did not have that student on a RIMP.

"Last year, we got double dinged for zero," Smith noted. "All of the kids that were not meeting their progress were on a RIMP."

The literacy grade means the data is compiled and the state finds the average from the date across the state to set the C grade. All of the buildings above the C level get the A's and B's. Those below are designated with the D and F grades, Smith explained.

"It can be different from year to year," she pointed out. "There's no way for us to say, we are a D right now, for us to get a C we have to have this many kids, to get a B we have to have this many kids.

"You can't do that," Smith added. "It's subjective every year. It's going to be different every year."

Willard City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ritz said the teachers at those levels are hampered by the fact students coming into the Willard City Schools for kindergarten come in at a low level of reading.

"They are showing a lot of improvement," Ritz pointed out. "Compared to other districts that have already started out higher, they have to catch up. So, if they get a B or a C, they've surpassed most districts."

A second indicator which determines a district's grade is the performance index, Smith said.

The performance index is made up of a number of levels of achievement. The district gets points for students who achieve at those levels.

For students at Central Elementary School, the levels are the following, along with the points the district receives for each student and the percentage of students in the building who achieved that level:

Advanced Plus - 1.3 points per student with 0-percent;

Advanced - 1.2 points per student with 23.6-percent;

Accelerated - 1.1 points per student with 16.5-percent;

Proficient - 1 point per student with 24.5-percent;

Basic - 0.6 points per student with 20.3-percent;

Limited - 0.3 points per student with 15.1-percent, and

Untested which earns 0 points and no students at Central Elementary were at the untested level.

"All of our kids take the test," smith said. "Wherever they score on the test, we get points for that, and they take the total points received and divide it by 120.

"So, all of our kids that are proficient," noted Smith, "they say those are your average kiddos. They get one point. Which is great."

If a student misses proficient by just one point, they are ranked at the basic level, Smith pointed out. The district only gets 0.6 points for that student's score.

"Whereas, if I am above proficient by a couple of points," she noted, "then we get a 1.1. "So, if I have a kid that scores one point below, I get dinged .4 for that kid. And, if I have a kid that's above, just as much as that kid was below, I gain back .1"

The most a student can score on a test by getting everything correct, a student can earn 1.3 points.

"So, when we figured out score out, this year we are at a C," Smith said. "Even if every single kid that we have scores proficient, they only get one point. So, that is 100, divided by 120, we are still at a B. That's the best we can do. We have to get some of those kids moved up."

Smith said by looking at the numbers, it gives administrators and teachers some idea where to improve to bring the building's grade card up in the future.

"If we increase our limited kids, and 10-percent of these kids become basic, and 10-percent of our basic become proficient," Smith said, "and just five-percent of our proficient move to accelerated, three percent of our accelerated move to advanced and just two-percent of our advanced move to advanced plus, we can have a B on our grade card.

"We know what we can shoot for," she said. "That's not going to change."

Central Elementary School Principal Tracy Stephens said the date gives a clear path for the future.

Stephens said the problem for next year will be the one chance to pass the OAA. Students who just took the test this fall had to get a 396 to be promoted.

"They will still be basic, according to the state," she noted. "It takes a score of 400 to be considered proficient. They can't take the OAA test again in the spring to see if they can get to a 400 or better. So, it's going to hurt our district."

There are a number of goals which administrators have set for Central Elementary School, according to Smith. One goal is to have 80-percent of the students in the third grade proficient in reading and math. For students on a RIMP, the goal will be to decrease that number by 25-percent and to remain on track.

For third grade students who do not pass the reading guarantee, Smith said there is a week of intervention in the summer before they take the test again to see where they will be when school starts.

There are other testing options, while not included in the state grade card do allow the student to move up to the fourth grade.

"What we are planning to do to try and get it to look a little bit better for us, is we started to do some flexible grouping in different grades," Stephens said. "Our third grade team was always flexible. So we have two teachers in the first grade that want to try it.

"We have them start their day in mixed ability grouping," she added. "Then at certain points in the day they break up into reading and math groups. Stronger readers are going together from two classes with one teacher. Then, the same thing for math."

Stephens said students do seem to work together and help bring each other up in learning. So, they will be with their same homeroom for most of the day.

Other plans for improvement which will be implemented will include walk-thrus, observations and working with lesson plans. Stephens said she will be looking for certain things each week in the lesson plans.

"I'm looking for our foundations, which are a new reading program that we have that we trained on last year," she explained. "I'm looking for that. I am doing walk-thrus when they are to be teaching that and see what's happening and what's going on."

In those lesson plans, Stephens said she will be looking for differentiation. Teachers will not be teaching in general to the large group. She will also be looking for small group activities at different levels, along with cooperative learning.

"I want them to be getting together and working in groups," she said. "It is important to learn how to work with their peers. Those are things I am looking for on a weekly basis."

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