Grove City Record

Three S-W schools earn accolades from the state

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Three South-Western elementary schools were among 164 in the state named as "Schools of Promise" by the Ohio Department of Education last week.

The designation, based on 2011-12 state report card data, was awarded April 2 to Monterey, North Franklin and Richard Avenue elementary schools.

All three of the South-Western schools earned Excellent ratings on the state report cards.

To qualify for the recognition, schools must have 75 percent or more of students scoring proficient or better on state achievement tests in reading and mathematics and have met or exceeded the expected growth for their students using the value-added measure for the most recent year.

"We're very proud to have three schools designated as Schools of Promise," South-Western Superintendent Bill Wise said. "This is a testament to what is possible when students, parents, staff and community work together and believe that all students can be successful."

At Monterey, the third-grade passage rates on the reading and math tests were 91.5 percent and 84.5 percent, respectively. The passage rates for fourth grade was 90.2 and 83.6 percent.

The state averages were 79 percent for third-grade reading, 79.8 percent for third-grade math, 83.3 percent for fourth-grade reading and 78.4 percent for fourth-grade math.

Monterey's performance index score was 101 out of a possible 120.

Although in just his first year as Monterey's principal, Brian Baker said it did not take him long to understand that at his school, teachers have a focus on making their subjects "applicable to the real world" for students.

"The staff here takes extra steps to work with kids to make learning meaningful for them," he said.

Monterey teachers integrate Best Practices in Education standards into their classrooms, Baker said.

The school's literacy and math coaches coordinate professional development and follow up with teachers, Baker said.

"It truly is a total group effort here. It's the entire staff, including custodians, secretaries, aides and the rest of our staff," he said. "And it also comes down to our parents being so supportive. We typically have 12 to 20 parent volunteers working with our students and teachers."

North Franklin students report card results showed 87.5 percent of students passing third-grade reading and 92.5 percent third-grade math. The fourth-grade reading test was passed by 84.7 percent and 87.5 percent of students passed the math test. North Franklin's performance index score was 103.3.

It's a joint effort of teachers, staff, students and parents that helped bring North Franklin's success, Principal Elaine Lawless said.

"We have great internal leadership among our teachers, a great community of parents and amazing children who work to take ownership for their learning," she said. "We have a building-wide focus on learning that encourages our students to take that ownership not just in third and fourth grade, but from their very first day of school."

North Franklin's teachers have regular meetings to review student data, "but it's not just looking at numbers, it's looking at what we can do to make a difference for children," Lawless said.

The school also has incorporated the blueprint including in The Basic School, a report providing a comprehensive plan for elementary education, she said.

The plan places a focus on the school as community, a curriculum with coherence, a climate for learning and a commitment to character, Lawless said.

Richard Avenue's achievement test passage rates in 2011-12 were 81.8 percent, third-grade reading; 88.3 percent, third-grade math; 84.4 percent, fourth-grade reading and 87 percent, fourth-grade math. The school's performance index score was 100.4.

"It's a great honor," Richard Avenue Principal Cathy Moore said of the Schools of Promise recognition. "It's a combination of the hard work by our students and a team approach by our entire staff, not just teachers. Our bus drivers, cooks, secretaries, all have a role in our students' growth."

The school has implemented Response to Intervention, a method of providing academic intervention to assist students who are having difficulty learning, Moore said.

"It's not just intervention for math, reading or other subjects, but it can also be stepping in when there's a behavioral problem or family needs," she said. "It all can have an impact on how a student is learning."

Parents also play an important role in helping their children succeed at school, Moore said.

"It takes all of us. We definitely need our parents working with us," she said.

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