A “High-Progress School” is a Title I school among the 10 percent of Title I schools in the state that is making the most progress in improving the performance of the “all students” group over three years on the statewide assessments. A school may not be classified as a High-Progress School if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.
“They looked at three years of [Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests] scores, 2010, 2011, 2012, and they looked at reading, English language arts and mathematics, and they saw the improvement,” Principal Ken MacKenzie said. “They didn’t pick one specific subgroup, this was an improvement for all students.”
He added, “We place a high emphasis on student achievement in general, but that’s our second priority. Our top priority is safety.”
MacKenzie said having grade level-based curriculum maps are helpful to teachers and have added to the school’s academic success throughout the year.
“Our teachers come back during the summer and we have three to four days of training where they work together and decide how they’re going to teach all the standards and they make a timeline for it,” MacKenzie said. “We don’t necessarily tell a teacher how to teach their curriculum, but we do check to see everybody is on the same page.”
He said the accomplishment would not have been possible if it weren’t for the teachers, parents and students putting forth effort on a daily basis.
“Of course the key component here is the kids,” MacKenzie said. “It’s the kids who are learning and it’s the kids showing the improvements and we firmly believe here that every kid can do it. If you don’t have that belief you’re not going to be successful.”
Fourth-grade teacher Bobbie Bruton explained preparing students for tests is an ongoing process with the goal being to educate, rather than have students rehearse answering questions.
“Preparation starts the first day of school. It’s not like you can just whip out a coach book and get them ready with practice questions,” Bruton said. “I feel like we don’t put a lot of stress on [standardized tests], we just prepare them well with strategies, helping them learn how to understand questions and figure out what’s being asked. A lot of teachers will do a ‘question of the day’ and we’ll kind of dissect and analyze one test question ... we really try and stay away from the ‘drill and kill’ [method] and just give [students] experiences [with testing material] so they can understand it and take it with them to the test.”
Bruton said while teachers enjoy working with students and seeing them meet and exceed academic standards, she appreciates the recognition from the state with CES being designated as a “High-Progress School.”
“It’s an honor to know the sacrifice, the hard work, everything you did, it paid off. It just affirms for me that I am doing a good job and I am helping these kids,” Bruton said.