2018-07-08 / News

STC middle school takes part in national program


Three staff members at Thurston Middle School in St. Charles were honored recently in Washington DC, along with several others throughout the United States for their participation in a government-sponsored educational study. Pictured are, left to right, math teacher Trina Gross, English language arts teacher Kristen Skiles and middle school principal Shawna Groulx. Courtesy Photo Three staff members at Thurston Middle School in St. Charles were honored recently in Washington DC, along with several others throughout the United States for their participation in a government-sponsored educational study. Pictured are, left to right, math teacher Trina Gross, English language arts teacher Kristen Skiles and middle school principal Shawna Groulx. Courtesy Photo ST. CHARLES – Staff at Thurston Middle School in St. Charles were honored recently for the school’s participation in a grant-funded study that included sixth and seventh grade classrooms across the country.

School principal Shawna Groulx along with teachers Trina Gross and Kristen Skiles traveled to Washington DC earlier this month in order to receive an award for taking part in a SEED grant.

During the ceremony, The Institute for Excellence in Education (IEE) in Michigan, the California League of Middle Schools, the Association of Illinois Middle-grade Schools, the North Carolina Association of Middle level Education, and the Center for Prevention Research and Development at the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign, honored schools, principals and teachers who contributed to its U.S. Department of Education Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant.

Groulx explained that the IEE reached out to the middle school to see if it was interested.

According to a release from The National Forum to Accelerate Middle- Grades Reform, results from the study showed vast improvements in academic scores.

“The National Forum is an experienced leader in transforming educational practices and strategies for teachers of student in grades five to eight,” according to Deborah Kasek, project director. “The grant results provide the field with a clearer path for improving student performance through effective middle-grades teacher preparation.”

Groulx agreed; she told the Citizen that the school’s participation in the program had a great impact on students.

“When we look at our student growth learning data our students far exceeded their growth expectations,” she said.

She explained that Thurston Middle School took part in it over the past two years.

“We were pretty fortunate to be able to take part in the study that was grant-funded by the federal government,” she said. “We were part of the control group the first year. So, they just collected data. The second year (the 2017-18 school year) we implemented the learning expectations.”

According to the press release the grant, titled the Power of Two Grant, was a randomized control evaluation test that took place in 96 intervention and sixth and seventh grade classrooms throughout the United States. Results showed that teachers were engaged more in lesson planning, mastered important strategies and methods, used data more often to improve learning, increased their confidence and were more reflective in their teachings.

“Student across the study were more engaged in their lessons, showed increased motivation to achieve, experienced more positive student interactions and felt teacher expectations were higher,” the release also said.

Across the study achievement scores reading and math also improved from fall to spring; students exhibited more positive mindsets, had fewer disruptive behaviors and reported a more positive classroom climate.

“Our learning data showed significant improvements from last year to this year. And our students far exceeded the learning growth expectations set by the NWEA

Northwest Evaluation Association) test,” Groulx said.

For more information on the National Forum organization visit www.middlegradesforum.org.

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