Harlan, Van Allen administrators lay out plans to meet NCLB standards
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Principals at Harlan and Van Allen Elementary schools presented their action plans to school directors Monday night concerning steps being taken to meet No Child Left Behind (NCLB) benchmarks.
Harlan Elementary School is classified as a NCLB School in Need of Assistance for failure to meet reading proficiency. Van Allen did not meet the standards in either math or reading.
Three other attendance centers — the high school, middle school and WisdomQuest Education Center — also feel short meeting the standards but have not yet outlined their plans to directors.
Jane Ragen, Harlan principal, said the school’s focus will be having instructors learn skills and strategies to teach effectively to the individual student’s needs based on diagnostic and formative assessment and flexible grouping.
“Strategies will target reading and writing skills of comprehension and foundational reading skills. The building team will modify scheduling and procedures considerations to optimize the opportunities for implementing a multi-tier system of supports,” she said in her report.
Ragen said staff members will increase access to high-interest supplementary reading resources to encourage more volume of reading by students and persistence with challenging text.
Some of the steps that will be taken include:
• Professional development training for teachers by a consultant.
• Response to intervention initiative will provide scheduled supplementary instruction on reading skills targeted to individual student readiness four days each week.
• The building team will identify and procure leveled high interest supplementary reading materials.
• The school will also encourage a culture of school community to promote a family friendly environment and support family awareness and acquisition of home-based learning strategies to student learning.
To help accomplish that, Harlan is planning two events for families to connect with their student’s classroom and the school to foster higher awareness of school academic expectations and acquire home-based skills to support the classroom. One of the events will focus on reading and the other on match.
Principal Don LeBlanc of Van Allen Elementary noted the school is in year three on the NCLB’s list. He said the district is implementing a new curriculum support by professional development.
LeBlanc said the new curriculum is cohesive and comprehensive that intentionally connects our new standards, instructional actions and assessments to create models that fosters a progression of units which focuses instruction on the standards. The goal is to prepare and write units literacy and numeracy for the fall of 2014.
Similar to Harlan, the Van Allen plan incorporates family involvement.
The Van Allen Family Engagement Team (FEAT) is organizing a choral reading and sing-along program scheduled for the last day before vacation, at which time the school will introduce its second annual winter reading program.
Goal of the activity is to provide a vibrant literacy activity, develop a home-school partnership and encourage our students to participate in learning activity over winter break, so students can continue growing as readers during the break.
Following the winter holidays, Van Allen will offer students additional reading celebration opportunities. The school will host Reading Under the Stars again as well as a Reading Super Bowl in January. The FEAT committee also plans coordinating Van Allen’s summer learning opportunities for students.
A school newsletter is distributed to parents, in English and Spanish, providing ideas for parents to better support their child’s learning and improve their child’s school experience.
Van Allen also offers an after-school study lab on Monday-Thursday that allows up to 15 students the opportunity to receive assistance to manage their schoolwork load and seek additional assistance.
In September, the school implemented the Paired Reading program using mainly retirees, so students, identified by classroom teachers in third through fifth grade, have the opportunity to read daily.
Finally, LeBlanc said a new teacher schedule is in effect this year which provides grade-level teachers, common planning time and offers classroom teachers small-group instructional opportunities. Weekly, a home room is divided for library and for word processing sessions (for third-five grade students). While one student group attends library or word processing, the remaining students receive intensive small group learning support.
The principal also informed the board that one recess per day has been eliminated from all classroom schedules and informational assemblies are scheduled at lunch time rather than impacting instructional time.