By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in a series of articles examining what each school in USD No. 480 is doing to improve Adequate Yearly Progress levels on state assessments.
Like all of the elementary schools in USD 480, Southlawn Elementary made Adequate Yearly Progress on its state assessments in both reading and math for 2009.
Unlike most of them, however, the school met the target for reading through safe harbor, meaning it showed significant improvement, from 51.8 percent in 2008 to 66.1 percent in 2009. The standard for that category was 79.7 percent for elementary schools.
The school did surpass the numbers for math, with a 79.7 percent score, just above the state target of 77.8.
As with all district schools, Southlawn has implemented the Literacy First program, which principal Gloria Quattrone said educators and administrators at the school are very excited about.
“We know it’s going to help kids become efficient readers,” she said. “I look for everyone’s scores to go up. It’s a program that’s very individualized. It meets the needs of the students. We’re very excited about it.”
Quattrone said students are measured three times a year with the Measure of Academic Progress test.
“We use the data we got from those tests at the beginning of the year to form what we call intervention groups based on the problems they were having in different areas, both reading and math,” she said. “We did daily intervention time with those students. We think that helps also.”
One other thing Southlawn focus its teaching on is vocabulary, something which Quattrone said many students are lacking in.
While all of Liberal’s elementary schools made AYP for 2009, neither of its intermediate schools or its middle schools met state targets in either reading or math, and Liberal High School also fell short of the marks. Quattrone said there is a simple explanation for why students at the lower school levels exceed on assessments, while older students seem to have more trouble.
“At this age, it’s easier to get them motivated,” she said. “It’s something new for them. It’s an advantage we have.”
By 2014, every public school district in the nation will have to reach 100 percent proficiencies as part of the No Child Left Behind mandate. Quattrone said her school hopes to be at that level at that time.
“We would like to see that happen,” she said. “That’s what we strive for every day when we’re here working – for all of our kids to be successful.”
Quattrone said it is test standards which stay the same, and what goes up is the percentage of students that have to score proficient. Those percentages are expected to rise to 83.7 percent for reading in 2010, with math jumping to 82.3 percent.
Quattrone said before 2014, government leaders are looking at making some changes to NCLB.
“I’ve read a lot about those changes,” she said. “They’ve heard a lot from educators.”
Quattrone credits much of Southlawn’s success to the parents of its students.
“We couldn’t ask for a better group of parents,” she said. “They’re very helpful and work with us.”