2017-04-16 / Front Page

Montrose schools work to help at-risk students

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

MONTROSE – The Montrose Community Schools Board of Education met Tuesday, April 11, at Carter Elementary School to analyze student achievement and review how the school responds to help at-risk students in each building; Carter Elementary School, Kuehn-Haven Middle School and Hill-McCloy High School.

Superintendent Dr. Edward Graham explained having analyzed the data, they worked to understand what at-risk children have in common. They determined that most of these students had transferred into the school district. They were not students who had been in Montrose Community Schools throughout kindergarten through 12th grade.

Carter Elementary School Principal Cassandra Jackson explained how her staff works together to recognize trends in student achievement. They analyze data from student testing in grades first through fourth. By tracking individual student achievement throughout the school year, they can determine when a student or a group of students has stalled in the learning process. Because they track student progress throughout the year, they are able to intervene and get students the additional help.

Jackson explained the teachers at Carter really dig into the data to determine how to help kids who need intervention.

“Implementation with fidelity is key,” she said, explaining they have to be consistent to make a real difference with students.

“We had a lot of transfer-in kids. They did not start in Montrose,” Jackson said. The teachers are working on developing a bank of interventions, so they all have the same interventions.

She added, “Kindergarten is different. We expect them to come in knowing letters and numbers and leave learning to read.”

Dr. Graham said, “Retention is the emotional equivalent to the death of a parent. It’s no wonder those kids are struggling.”

School board trustee Ron Loafman added he did his dissertation about students who transfer-in and how it impacts their success. “A lot of kids that are misbehaving are misbehaving because they are struggling,” Loafman said.

Kuehn-Haven Principal Rhonda Barber discussed the system she uses as being Multiple Tiers for Success, which is a research-based intervention. She explained a student assistance team reviews student data, develops an action plan and reviews the results.

In some cases, the intervention takes place within the classroom, addressing the students’ greatest needs. The middle school student success coordinator and/and or a counselor develops an overall understanding of the student, including past and current school performance, as well as what interventions have been used in the past. She explained the goal is to help the family and student understand and increase the awareness of where the student struggles and what opportunities are available for improvement.

Among the opportunities for improvement are programs such as Genius Hour. Barber said, “Every kid has a genius in them.” It’s a way to explore their strengths and build on areas where they need to build their strength.

“Some of our advisors are bulldogs with the students, following up on missing assignments,” she said. Barber told the school board when scoring a student’s progress, 30 percent of his or her score is attendance. “If they’re not attending, they’re not learning. It’s going to affect how they do on tests,” Barber said.

Hill-McCloy High School Principal Dr. Linden Moore said, “Our interventions are heavy at the ninth grade. We have four years to graduate them. You have to get to 22 credits to graduate. We need to identify those who are struggling right away.”

He said, “We rely a lot on the middle school.”

Moore explained they have implemented an algebra support program for students who have struggled with math in the past. He explained at-risk students take an algebra support model at the same time as they take algebra one. As they go through the class, the algebra support lessons run about two weeks in front of algebra one. These students are now able to answer questions in class.

“[As a result] these are kids who have confidence in a math class now,” Moore said.

He talked about the process of reading recovery in grades ninth through 11th. “We try to get them early. You’ve got kids who struggle with math; kids who struggle with reading; and some who just struggle with life. Ultimately, it’s about getting those 22 credits to graduate,” Moore said. He explained they focus on goals that get students to the career they want.

“The other side is the high performing needs. We need to make sure we have the honors classes and dual enrollment opportunities,” Moore said.

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