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Artz-Fox Elementary does well on educational audit

MABTON - The office of Superintendent of Public Instruction did an educational audit on Artz Fox Elementary School. Audit findings were conveyed to the Mabton School Board at its meeting Monday night.

A team of five educators reviewed 41 school documents, did 29 classroom observations and interviewed 46 staff members.

The audit team identified strengths and concerns in four major areas.

One area was in shared focus, high expectations and effective leadership. The strengths in this area include a staff-owned written vision/mission statement. The current mission statement for Artz-Fox was developed by staff during the 2003-2004 school year. According to the audit report, most of the staff could paraphrase the mission statement when asked.

Another strength is the increased expectations of student behavior. Leadership empowering and nurturing staff were also cited as strengths.

Some concerns in this area were limited implementation of the vision/mission statement and frequently changing leadership.

A high number of staff (93 percent) said the school principal is committed to quality education. The study found Artz-Fox Elementary School has had three principals in the past three years. Effective schools research states stable leadership can bring about stability to policies and procedure and management style.

The second area looked at was supportive learning environment.

The strengths were mutual support and respect among staff and for students, as well as emerging norms of conduct for classroom behavior.

Some concerns in this area were limited time for individual planning and team collaboration, and inconsistent systems to support effective staff communication.

The third reviewed area was curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development.

The strengths were they were successful in implementing a reading improvement program and the school is moving toward a more effective English language learning model. Also cited were the formation of a new mathematics committee and staff recognition for the need to align curriculum materials with the grade level expectations (GLEs) in reading.

One concern is mathematics curriculum is not aligned with grade level expectations.

The last area looked at in the audit was equitable learning opportunities and access.

Some strengths were all written documents were translated into Spanish and the student and parent appreciation for Spanish-speaking staff members was high.

Some concerns were limited evidence of a program for highly-capable students and inconsistent development and implementation of policies and procedures.

In a recent survey, 77 percent of parents agreed it is easy to communicate with the school. Forty percent of staff members speak Spanish.

The audit team came up with four recommendations. The first one being the staff aligns instructional materials in reading with the GLEs to enable all students to achieve at high levels.

The second one was staff and others research and adopt a rigorous and relevant mathematics curriculum that is aligned with the academic learning requirements of GLEs.

Recommendation three is for staff and leadership research, develop and implement consistent policies and procedures for the purposes of equitably increasing all students' learning and reducing achievement gaps.

The fourth and last recommendation is for staff and leadership to identify and initiate opportunities for providing sufficient time to foster a formalized, professional learning community that will enhance instruction and increase learning for all students.

In the audit team's concluding remarks, they said they sincerely believe that Artz-Fox Elementary School now has a unique combination of administration, staff, parents and students that possess the necessary qualities to implement successful school improvement efforts.

"Artz-Fox was a great school for us to come to," Sally Storm, an educational consultant for the team, said. "They have a great staff and principal, what more could you ask for?"

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