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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Elementary, RMS principals share school improvement plans

  • Principals from the three elementary schools and the middle school presented their annual school improvement plans to the Rolla Board of Education Thursday night.
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  • Principals from the three elementary schools and the middle school presented their annual school improvement plans to the Rolla Board of Education Thursday night.
    “We’re all very proud,” Harry S Truman Elementary School Principal Darlene Bramel, the first speaker, said, summing up the feelings of the other presenters regarding each school’s performance during the 2012-2013 school year.
    Throughout the presentations, a couple of themes flowed: 1.) taking extra steps before school and after school to enhance students’ academic performance, 2.) using technology to engage students and 3.) reaching out to involve parents and the whole community in school activities and attention to children.
    “School now is not what it was when we were young,” said Corey Ray, principal of Col. John B. Wyman Elementary School.
    Here’s a look at each presentation:
    Truman Elementary
    Bramel reviewed the goals for the previous year and then presented the goals for the 2013-2014 school year.
    Last year the goal was to have 80 percent of students ranked as proficient or advanced on their state test scores. “Lofty goal” is the way Bramel described that goal, which was not reached. “Overall we showed improvement,” Bramel said, nothing that the best showing was one classroom that hit 79 percent proficient or advanced.
    The school had an attendance goal of 96 percent. The school year ended with 95.8 percent attendance.
    The goal of 100 percent of the staff using Positive Behavior Support techniques was reached.
    The goal of increasing the use of technology in the classroom is a never-ending “challenge,” she said, because of the ongoing shortage of devices, such as iPads and the like.
    The school set a goal of 100 percent of students reading at their grade level or above. What was actually reached was 89 percent of the students, but about half the third and fourth grade students were reading at least two grade levels above their grade level at the end of last year.
    Now, the goals for 2013-2014 are just as lofty as they were this time last year.
    Bramel said the school faculty and administration will work with students to increase Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test scores by five points, which will be a 3 percent increase.
    To reach that goal, teachers will collaborate with one another more, particularly “in vertical teams,” meaning teachers of earlier grades will confer with teachers of later grades, where the tests are given, to know what they can do to better prepare students for those grade levels and the tests.
    For struggling readers, Truman this school year began using the FastForward mentoring program, recommended by Wyman Elementary School.
    Truman attendance for this school year will be 95 percent of students attending 90 percent of the time. To accomplish this, parents will be called and visited at home. Individual students and grade levels will be honored for their outstanding attendance.
    Page 2 of 4 - The third goal is to continue 100 percent use of Positive Behavior Support by the faculty. This will include increased involvement of parents at activities that occur at least monthly.
    Also continuing from last year is the goal of having 100 percent of students reading at grade level or above.
    “We think this is an important goal to have in place,” Bramel said. The pupils agree. Bramel showed video clips during her presentation. Following the presentation of the reading goal, she showed a clip of her interview with students: “Reading makes you…,” Bramel said in the video. “Smarter!” the youngsters shouted.
    Finally, Bramel said, the school will continue to work on increasing the use of technology in the classroom. The faculty will receive more training, apps will be reviewed and purchased and SMARTboards will be used more effectively.
    “The availability of devices is our biggest detriment,” she reiterated.
    Closing her presentation, Bramel showed slide photographs of Truman’s Literary Garden, a place behind the school that has been landscaped by volunteers with benches and picket fencing.
    “I’m just really proud of what we do at Truman, how far we take the kids, how the staff takes care of kids,” she said.
    Mark Twain Elementary
    Principal Matt Fridley opened his presentation with a review of how the plan was developed.
    The Professional Learning Committee’s Leadership Team met four times to make suggestions. Faculty surveys from last year were included, as was parental feedback from surveys, conferences, casual conversations, emails and phone calls. The foundation of all that is a focus on the needs of students.
    Fridley said the testing goal will be to improve student performance in math and English language arts while “continuing to maintain high expectations in all other areas.”
    To do that, teachers will have quarterly half-days to collaborate with one another on student performance and ways to improve it. Where necessary, the Response to Intervention model will be used.
    Fridley noted that the response model led to changes in the Student Assistance Team and the Positive Behavior Support team.
    “We have also developed an RtI (Response to Intervention) Team with the sole purpose of reviewing data, development assessments and identifying interventions to reach students,” Fridley said.
    Teachers on these various teams meet at least one evening a week.
    Another goal is to improve “citizenship skills” by “promoting positive behavior and good character traits,” Fridley said.
    This goal includes the citizenship goal of “92 percent of all students with an overall attendance rate of 90 percent for the year.”
    Fridley said there will be a sharpened focus on the “school and family partnership” regarding citizenship skills and attendance. Parents already are quite involved in special events.
    Page 3 of 4 - “We’re making phone calls to make sure children are attending school,” he added.
    For the next goal, enhancing instruction through the use of technology, another committee, the Technology Focus Group, has been formed.
    Training for teachers and a continued look at long-term technology needs for the building are key components in the strategy to meet that goal.
    A final goal is this: “Mark Twain Elementary will identify and provide interventions for at-risk students.”
    To do this, students will continue to be tutored outside of the regular day, through the RISE program.
    Also, having the school receive Title I designation allows for flexibility with Title I personnel. (Title I is federal financial assistance to schools with a high percentage of poor children; that assistance helps the schools help the children meet challenging state academic standards.)
    Wyman Elementary
    Principal Corey Ray and first grade teacher Catherine Spiller presented Wyman school’s improvement plan.
    “Students will increase achievement on the MAP by 10 index points” was the first goal presented by Ray.
    That goal far exceeds the 2 percent increase of the previous plan, but Ray said he believes it is reachable. The school has 86 pupils scoring at the basic level or below. A 2 percent increase would just be 1.72 kids, he said.
    “I felt we were better than that,” Ray declared. He said he believes the school can improve the performance of at least eight children.
    The flexibility of Title I reading and math services will help achieve that goal, as will the use of various technological tools. Professional development for the staff in technology training and “brain-based instruction” will be stressed.
    Tutoring after school will be available for the students who need the extra attention to keep up.
    Another goal is to “increase the use of positive behavior and good character traits” in students.
    Spiller told the board there are two areas of concern, the playground and the buses.
    Rules are being posted on the playground and bus drivers are being trained at special breakfast meetings.
    There’s also a possibility that the mid-day recess will  be changed to occur before lunch rather than after. A Montana study indicates student behavior improved on the playground with that scheduling change, Spiller said.
    Student of the Day recognition will be made and there will be an increased use of student mentors from Prevention Consultants. Teacher training in the Positive Behavior Support program will also continue.
    Spiller also presented the attendance goal to the board: “93 percent of Wyman students will attend 90 percent of the time.”
    Last year, 92.7 percent of students attended 90 percent the time.
    Page 4 of 4 - Attendance of individual students will be monitored. An attendance chart to recognize classes each month for 95 percent attendance will lead to rewards for the highest attendance rate: first to lunch and extra recess.
    Ray gave the final goal: “Wyman will increase positive school experiences and communication with parents and the community.”
    This will be done with the use of School Messenger, a computerized contact program, as well as newsletters and mass media use.
    “We are making this more family friendly,” Ray said of the school.
    Rolla Middle School
    Principal Monica Davis, Assistant Principal Jodi Elder and Administrative Intern Sheri Norman made this presentation.
    Davis said the goals were established from Professional Learning Committee Leadership Team input, survey information and input from the Parent Advisory Committee.
    The school’s first goal is to improve student performance in all academic areas.
    “This year RMS will increase achievement in tested areas by five MAP index points,” Davis said. For the past three years, students scored 372.3, 376.3 and 378.1 in English language arts and 369, 377 and 378.1 in mathematics.
    The school will focus on professional development regarding the Missouri Learning Standards (core curriculum) and classroom technology. The new textbooks are based on the core curriculum standards.
    Also required is a morning study hall.
    Low achievement will be monitored and interventions will be made.
    The school will increase technology use by providing more training and requiring teachers to use My Big Campus as an instructional tool. Teachers will also be required to include technology in their professional development plans.
    More teachers will be sent to the district’s I-Teach Academy and added to the I-Teach Focus Group. Three additional iPad carts will be added.
    Norman presented the attendance goal that 93 percent of the students will attend 90 percent of the time.
    The attendance strategy includes positive incentives for classrooms with 95 percent or better attendance, Norman said. Also, the school will work on building relationships with parents. A breakfast mentoring club for students who miss frequently will be formed.
    Elder gave the next goal, an emphasis on “building a strong community that is safe, comfortable and welcoming for students.”
    The school has a Positive Behavior Support Checkbook Program that helps mentored students earn money as they improve behavior. Also in the strategy, a new counseling unit about cyber-bullying, increased publicity about the school through local media, and a new student-initiated anti-bullying club called Speak Out.
    In addition, the school will use My Big Campus to share information and photographs with students and parents.

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