Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for December 9, 2009
Two local schools recognized as top performers
Kanab Elementary School and Valley Elementary School have been recognized by the Utah State Office of Education as high performing Title I schools for the 2008-2009 school year. The two local schools were included in a list of 59 out of 243 Title I schools for their exceptional student performance.
Title I is a federal education program under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), whereby federal funding is provided to schools in low income areas to help economically disadvantaged students. To be a Utah high performing Title I school, a school must achieve adequate yearly progress under NCLB for two consecutive years in both language arts and math, and attain at or above the state average scores on the most recent Core tests. The use of student test data is the basis for measuring these results.
KES Principal Pam Aziz explained the process of using student test data to improve student learning. Each fall, once the testing data from the previous spring is received from the state, the entire school district takes a paid data day, so each and every teacher can evaluate class and individual student performance in the specific subject areas tested. Test scores measure whether a student is proficient in a particular subject area, required by NCLB, as well as the state. The highly specific test data can pinpoint weak areas right down to an individual student’s grasp of a single math or language arts concept.
All students not proficient in any specific area are identified. The teacher, principal, District Reading Specialist Nancy Roundy and when required, the school special education teacher, then collaborate and develop learning improvement plans individually tailored to each of those students. Teaching and individual help focuses on the weak areas. Student progress is monitored on a weekly basis, with regular testing and constant evaluation, until the student adequately grasps the concept, becoming proficient within the meaning of the law.
Principal Brent Blodgett explained, at Valley Elementary, the same basic process is used, called a response to intervention, or RTI approach. There, teachers and staff use bi-weekly reading and math scores to intervene in students’ schoolwork and schedule. Changes to individual plans are made as the need arises throughout the school year. The school uses a reading lab and special education department for small group and one-on-one services.
Also, like KES, VES uses the Accelerated Reading Program to incentivize reading; the Spaulding Reading program to teach phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension; the MY Access! Writing program to improve writing skills; and the Saxon Math program, a program that constantly reviews previously taught math concepts as it progresses. These programs all involve the use of data, facilitating instructional decisions and focused attention by teachers where it can have the most impact.
Effectively teaching children has become an increasingly daunting challenge for educators. In addition to being held accountable for ensuring all children learn the state curriculum and are proficient under NCLB, educators have had to analyze and use data as the most effective way to provide differentiated instruction to reach all students.
The key to learning is matching instruction to student need. The Kane School District has completely embraced this concept over the last six to seven years in all of its schools. Principals Aziz and Blodgett both credit their teachers for their “hard work and many long hours,” in getting this right and achieving this recognition. The two schools have received certificates from the state, which will be displayed on site.
Kane Schools Superintendent Robert Johnson commented, “Kanab Elementary and Valley Elementary are very deserving of this recognition. They consistently score in the top percentile of the state in CORE tested subjects and the administration and staff of both schools have worked extremely hard with curriculum alignment and quality of instruction to reach this level of achievement. We salute and congratulate them for this accomplishment.”
Indeed, congratulations to the staff and students of Kanab and Valley Elementary Schools for this success.