Woodcrest one of two schools in the state honored for closing achievement gap
At a June 7 all-school meeting on the last day of school, Woodcrest Elementary received the Spotlight Award for Closing the Achievement Gap from Brian Grogan, chairperson of the Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation’s (MAEF).
The award, from MAEF and the Minnesota Department of Education, was for schools that demonstrated significant improvements within their academic outcome metrics.
Only two schools in Minnesota was earned the award for the 2011-2012 school year. Woodcrest is a Spotlight Award winner for the second year in row.
“On behalf of the MAEF,” Mr. Grogan told the school's students and many of its parents, “I would like to congratulate Woodcrest Elementary for its commitment to academic excellence and its focus on student achievement for all students.”
He added that the selection committee was impressed by Woodcrest’s four-tier system in which children are quickly and consistently monitored for achievement results, including one tier in which students ‘check in, check out’ each day.
This system is utilized to insure that the student understands expectations and is rewarded for achieving results.
Judi Kahoun, Woodcrest principal said she was thrilled that her staff was being recognized for their hard work, saying “they truly believe in each and every single student and go above and beyond to meet each student’s social, emotional, and academic needs. Each dayI see the efforts and caringthat these adults show for our children.”
|Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation chairperson Brian Grogan addresses Woodcrest students, parents, and staff.|
At Woodcrest, Kahoun explained, “we revamped our reading instruction so that our most at-risk learners receive intensive, sustainedinterventions, while at the same time being sure our students that are at or above grade level targets are being challenged so they continue to grow as well. We have a great staff who work hard every day to ensure each and every student feels a personal connection to a staff member, that each is engaged and sees value in their own learning.”
At the all-school gathering, a number of the school’s young learners shared with student, parents, and staff their pride in the progress they’d made in their learning this year:
“This year i learned that even if there are long words that I can't spell,I can sound them out. When you do this your teacher is proud of you. If your parents see you do 20 + 20 they are super proud of you. They might give you a nice present for Christmas, they are so proud.”
“All the teachers have helped me. I was new in kindergarten and I had to learn a lot of English. Mr. Brady, Miss Dedrickson, Mrs. Marquardt and Mrs. Kahoun helped me learn better and make new friends. I also made a really good friend who helped me out-John. He never lets me down.”
“I learned English. Ms. Grossklaus taught me how to read good. She helped me to read with expression. I am good at reading fluently. I got 111 words per minute.”
“I practice reading with Mr. Sandell. I can sound out words. I am happy I can read Scoobie-Doo.”
“I am excited because I know new stuff, like times and a lot of math. i learned how to read. Miss Vielgut and Mrs. Gangl taught me. I know how to sound out words and do the chunky monkey. If a word is hard I have to keep going and thenI go back to the word.”
“I like to do plus, minus, and times in math. I met my reading goal. My first book didn't count, then I passed it with 94 words. Mrs. Sammons helped me. The first days of school I did good, but then I went even higher.”
Kahoun said the school district prefers to use the term “closing the opportunity gap,” and that “across the district we are focusing our learning as educators toward personalizing our teaching to meet the individual needs of all students. We are creating the systems and structures necessary to ensure student growth. This includes strong Professional Learning Communities in which teachers are continually reviewing data and adjusting instructional strategies to meet student needs.”
There were many examples of successes that the school achieved. Here are a few:
-- In 2010-2011, when Woodcrest was at 56 percent free and reduced lunch, 82 percent of the school’s third graders met their oral reading fluency goals. In Fall 2011, only 50% of the third graders met their oral reading fluency benchmark. By May 2012, 88 percent of Woodcrest third graders met their oral reading fluency goals, at a time when the number for students qualifying for free and reduced lunch increased to 61 percent.
-- In one example of working to eliminate the racial achievement gap as measured by oral reading fluency data, in the second grade 83% of black students, 83% of our Hispanic students, and 82 percent of white students met their year-end benchmarks.
--In the fall of 2011, 30 percent of the school’s Hispanic students in kindergarten met the benchmark for naming their letters. By the spring of 2012, 85 percent of Hispanic students met the benchmark.