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BEA develops plan to meet federal standards

By Staff | Nov 15, 2008

A 28-page improvement plan may be what Blue Earth Area needs to make Adequate Yearly Progress, the first time in the past three years.

The district developed the two-year plan with the assistance of educational consultant Quintin Pettigrew in hopes of meeting standards under the No Child Left Behind law.

“He (Pettigrew) helped us see the trees through the forest a little bit,” says Kevin Grant, elementary school principal.

Grant and middle school principal Melissa McGuire updated the school board on efforts being taken to attain the federal government’s AYP requirement.

The past two years the district has not met the federal standard because of low test scores in one area — special education.

McGuire says Petti-grew visited all the school sites during a two-week period. She says the new plan combines the district’s school improvement plan, changes requested by teachers and the site visits.

“We won’t see the growth we want until next year, when it’s fully implemented,” says McGuire. “Hopefully we’ll see some this year.”

While great things are being done at the district’s three schools, says Grant, Pettigrew found that different teaching techniques were being used.

“There were some things that just weren’t systematic,” he says. “It’s kind of like, we all need to beat the drum the same way.”

At the district level, BEA would:

• Have regular and special education teachers meet to determine increasing inclusion of special education students for reading and math;

• Align classroom assessments to state test standards;

• Have teachers for K-12 develop classroom goals for reading and math;

• Develop an individual reading and math goal for each student;

• Use research-based practices in reading and math as discussed in Professional Learning Communities;

• Utilize educational consultants to improve reading and math achievement.

Grant says district officials are trying to focus on students who missed passing the AYP reading test by one to five points.

The list includes six special education students; 21 in free or reduced meal category; three with limited English proficiency; and 24 not falling into the three categories.

“Teachers are looking at what they can do to motivate and try to get some extra help and guidance to get these kids to pass,” he adds.

Grant says many teachers already have started working in the improvements.

In working for improvement at the school level, district officials will:

• Review and restructure the special education system so it is more like regular education;

• Have special education and regular teachers meet to evaluate specific needs of students;

• Require all teachers to attend the “Maximizing Reading Achievement of the Special Education Student” workshop;

• Have staff align reading curriculum maps to test specifications and standards;

• Increase student proficiency in reading by having teachers use differentiated instruction;

• Have staff align local assessments more closely with state test specifications.