The Utah State Office of Education has acknowledged Kanab Elementary School (KES) as a recipient of a 2014 Utah Elementary and Secondary Education Reward School Recognition.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The law represented a major new commitment by the federal government to “quality and equality” in educating our young people.

Under this law, Title One provides federal funds to schools with a high number of children from low-income families. As a result of conditions that often affect families who are poor, these children are at risk of falling behind in school, thereby requiring additional resources in the future to catch up and stay on track. Title I funds are awarded to the schools in order to help.

Kanab Elementary has been recognized as a top performing Title-I school in Utah every year since 2011. There are three categories of school ranking – Reward Schools (top 15%), Focus Schools (next lowest 10% above Priority School status), and Priority Schools (lowest 5%).

As of 2014, there were 316 Title-I schools in Utah. KES’s 2014 ranking was based on student performance on the former year-end Criterion-Reference test (CRT). This year’s ranking will be based on the new SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) year-end assessment.

As mandated in the act, the funds are authorized for professional development, instructional materials, for resources to support educational programs, and for parental involvement promotion. KES Principal Braxton Bateman recently discussed some of the ways that KES has focused on student learning under Title One.

The primary way that Kanab Elementary has used these funds is to hire additional para-professionals to assist teachers and students in the classrooms.  Para-professionals are specialized teacher aid positions, generally responsible for specialized or concentrated assistance for students.

During the 2014-2015 school year, rather than pull individual students out of the class for intervention with a para-professionals as was done previously, same grade level students are grouped together, and tutored in groups, according to the specific curriculum standards that they need to learn. Such grade-level interventions lasted 30 minutes Monday through Thursday.

Additional para-professionals were involved where needed to reduce student group sizes. It was found that this collaborative intervention strategy is a more efficient and effective use of paraprofessional and teacher time.

Another collaborative intervention strategy involves Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). PLC’s are essentially professional working groups. KES teachers work in PLCs to compare common assessments and ensure proper placement of students in the necessary enrichment activity or intervention. This summer, teachers received PLC training.

KES has also used the funds to support the onsite preschool to expand opportunities for lower income students to attend preschool, an important component of academic success. Studies prove that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.

Parental involvement is another key factor in student academic success, and another way that Title One funds are used. KES has used them to facilitate parent education and involvement. Training in the Spalding Method (the highly effective phonetically-based reading program instituted in the district in 2004) is given to parents each year.

Additionally, KES holds Reading Nights for families once a month, and “Dads & Donuts” and “Moms & Muffins” morning family reading activities each school year.

Bateman noted that these implementations have helped – that the students of Kanab Elementary have shown great success and continue to improve their academic learning. He went on to state that, “Everyone at Kanab Elementary contributed to this award, including the support from parents and the community. Congratulations to Kanab Elementary students in their academic hard efforts. Also, congratulations to the Kanab Elementary staff as they continue to incorporate research-based practices within their school and adjust their classroom instruction to ensure high levels of learning for all students.”