Reynoldsburg News

Local schools 'SOAR' to Battelle awards

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Accepting a SOAR award from Battelle for Kids are Mindy Adkins (left) a fifth-grade teacher at Windermere Elementary School in Upper Arlington, and (far right) Steven M. Scarpitti, principal of Windermere Elementary. With them Michael Sawyers, acting superintendent of public instruction at the Ohio Department of Education; and Tom Snowberger, senior vice president of human resources at Battelle Memorial Institute and president of Battelle for Kids board of directors.
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Schools in Upper Arlington and Reynoldsburg are among 15 Ohio schools recognized with a SOAR award by Battelle for Kids.

In addition to Windermere Elementary in Upper Arlington and Waggoner Road Middle School in Reynoldsburg, other central Ohio schools or districts receiving SOAR awards for high progress were James A. Harmon Elementary School in the South-Western City School district, Olentangy High School and Olentangy Liberty.

The Westerville City School District received a SOAR Award for significant progress.

Jim Mahoney, executive director of Battelle for Kids, recognized the schools on Nov. 12.

"The exceptional growth these educators have made with students is a testament to the hard work they've put forth to improve their schools and districts," he said.

He said the SOAR program is a school improvement collaborative that piloted value-added analysis in each school district to demonstrate how value-added information can improve teachers' and schools' impacts on student learning.

He said 830 Ohio schools are a part of the SOAR initiative.

The High Progress Award is based on math and reading scores in grades four through eight and science scores in grades five and eight.

Windermere Elementary Principal Steve Scarpetti said his Upper Arlington school is "proudly displaying the SOAR banner in the front lobby."

"We were very excited when we learned about the award," he said. "It is such an honor and certainly a testament to the hard work that families, in concert with teachers, are doing to help children learn and grow.

"It is a great acknowledgment of that collective effort and cooperative spirit," he said.

Scarpetti said he has "hard-working, dedicated teachers with relentless passion for having every student become a successful learner."

He said the school's key strategies for success are "collaboration between education staff and special education staff; early release time for professional development on complex thinking, backwards planning and curriculum development, and a comprehensive assessment calendar, including benchmarking three times a year for all kindergarten through fift- grade students on literacy."

Reynoldsburg's Waggoner Road Middle School Principal Pamela Bertke said she was proud of the teachers "and so grateful that their hard work and commitment to kids" was being recognized.

"To get the SOAR award is an achievement very few schools ever receive, which makes it that much more of an honor," she said. "It was a total team effort. We challenged teachers to improve and they rolled up their sleeves and got the job done."

She said some of the strategies for her school's success were to increase instructional time for fifth-grade math and to use help from a district-hired math coach.

"I attribute our success to our constant commitment to student achievement, flexible grouping and always using data to make decisions about student placement," she said. "There are checkpoints in place throughout the years, so that it's not a surprise to us in June when the OAA scores are released.

"Not only is data used to monitor student growth and achievement, we also use it to monitor and make decisions regarding staffing moves and changes, which is just as important," she said.

Scarpetti said SOAR program representatives track student progress on district and state assessment tests.

"They basically looked at our scores over a number of years and said our kids showed high levels of growth and achievement," he said.

Scarpetti has been principal at Windermere for the past five years.

"Any time our kids show great gains and achievement is grounds for celebration," he said. "Our task of educating children goes well beyond the six and a half hours we have them.

"Families and teachers work together to keep focused on growth, success and achievement," he said.

Information about Battelle for Kids and the SOAR awards is available online at BattelleforKids.org.

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