Elementaries show high ISTEP growth

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Jeff Fritz

Two Clay Community Elementary schools show high growth.

According to information provided by the Indiana Department of Education, Jackson Township Elementary (JTE) showed a 45.2 percent growth in English/language arts and Forest Park Elementary (FPE) showed a 62.5 percent growth in math.

Both schools are proud of their accomplishments.

"The teachers and support staff at (JTE) deserve the credit for the school being identified in the top 5 percent of High Growth Schools in English/language arts in Indiana," Principal Jeff Fritz said. "The entire (JTE) staff takes great pride in providing a quality education for their students. They strive to improve each year, and they expect excellent results."

Forest Park Elementary Principal Jon Russell echoed Fritz's thoughts.

Jon Russell

"This is solid proof of our students, faculty, and staff's hard work and dedication are paying off in dividends with respect to our students' learning," Russell said. "I am very fortunate and proud to be a part of such a wonderful, hard working and dedicated group of educators, parents and students."

Both schools were identified through Indiana's Growth Model, which compares individual students to their peers who started at the same level of achievement. With a minimum of two years of Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress-Plus (ISTEP+) data the students' growth is then calculated by comparing the difference between the two scores with those in their peer group.

Not only do both schools credit their students and staff they also believe the curriculum they are teaching is having the desired impact.

"Students are actively engaged in daily math activities that are based on a solid math curriculum. In addition FPE uses the Accelerated Math Program," Title 1 Coordinator Debbie Zimmerman said. "This is a scientifically research-based program that personalizes math instruction for each child and provides immediate feedback. It has been proven to dramatically accelerate math growth as a supplement to the core math curriculum."

In addition, Power Standards are taught for 20 minutes daily to teach and remediate Math concepts and after school Math remediation was also offered in two different sessions last year.

"The teachers and support staff at (FPE) continue to have high expectations in all areas for their students. So being identified as one of the High Growth Schools in math in Indiana was an extreme honor," Zimmerman said. "The students also understand the importance of math as the practical application piece is reinforced during their daily 20 minutes in the RTI room."

Both schools stress the importance of their subjects and continue to reinforce that throughout the day.

"The staff is also on the same-page when it comes to high academic expectations as well as good student behavior; therefore, students are ready to learn when school starts each day, with very few student discipline issues to deal with on a regular basis," Fritz said. "We have an excellent English program at (JTE), with a solid curriculum. An approach was implemented a few years ago identifies students who are below grade level, and concentrated teaching strategies are used to move these students at or above grade level. These have been very successful at our school."

Setting high expectations for success is vital at JTE. Not only do the students and teachers expect to do well, so do the parents.

"The students also want to succeed; they work hard and enjoy the challenges and rewards. Parents also expect their students to do well. Their involvement and support of the school's efforts are greatly appreciated," Fritz said. "As principal, I am extremely proud of our school. I witness the students' and staff members' hard work, and it is rewarding to see their efforts acknowledged."

Not only are both schools happy with the recent announcement, members of the administration are also pleased with the work going on at the schools.

"The entire school community should be proud of the efforts our teachers, instructional assistants and administrators make every day to ensure that all children in their schools are learning to their highest potential. The high growth distinction in language arts for (JTE) and math for (FPE) demonstrate this commitment to pushing the academic bar higher every year," Assistant Supt. of Curriculum Kim Tucker said. "These educators also push their colleagues to meet or exceed their results. This kind of professional competitiveness supports the adage, 'a rising tide lifts all boats' as evidenced by many other academic achievements that have occurred over the last year in all of our schools."

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  • Perhaps it would be best to identify the math curriculum used at Forest Park and use it corporation wide at the elementary schools....That said also make Shirley Method corporation wide as well if Jackson feels that that was the major factor in the improvement.

    I cannot see not using what works corporation wide so all students equal benefits but that is what the corporation does.

    While I've heard the reasoning that teachers had to be "on board" with the curriculum chosen, I don't accept it. Only what works best should be used at all schools.

    -- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 2:08 PM
  • I think the real key here is not the cirriculum ... the teachers being "on board" sells the package to the kids. Cirriculum without passionate teachers is just books on a shelf ...

    -- Posted by Gunslinger on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 3:59 PM
  • I agree.

    Without teachers, the curriculum is nothing but the argument can be made that with the best curriculum available put into place, wouldn't all good teachers want the best for their students? Anything less would be cheating them.

    -- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 5:40 PM
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