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Improvement plans presented to school board

GRANDVIEW - Each of the six schools within the Grandview School District provided the Grandview School Board with their improvement plans at this past Tuesday's board meeting.

A.H. Smith Elementary School Principal Diann Zavala was the first to give her presentation. She told the board members that the school has been focusing on improving math and reading scores.

"This is our fourth year in the Reading First (program)," she stated.

Zavala said the biggest challenge for the school has been in helping teachers, who are solid in the program, to take ownership in the program monitoring. She said the teachers need to plan the interventions with reading coaches and access the progress monitoring of students via an available website to monitor the progress of the interventions.

Zavala also noted interventions are really needed in math. "We will be using a math consultant in September, utilizing results from the WASL," she said to the board, noting the school has been involved in math investigations for four years and had the assistance of a math consultant for two of those years.

Vice Principal at Harriet Thompson Elementary School, Jaime Morales, gave his school's improvement plan presentation to the school board. He said the plan includes more parent involvement in the school.

"We have looked at adding perception data from the parents. We will target the fall conferences to assess the feedback and implement changes to gain parental involvement," Morales said.

He said gathering data in the fall gives the school time to implement the changes suggested by the parents.

"They want to be more involved, but don't know how. So, we need to help them learn how," Morales told Board President Tim Grow when asked about focusing on parent coaching.

Each of the school principals said parent involvement is a major issue of focus. "There are many ways a parent can support the child at home, such as checking the backpack, providing a quiet place to do homework, checking homework," said McClure Principal Jose Rivera.

School officials also told the school board that they are looking at ways to help parents learn how to help their children learn the math techniques currently being taught. "We need to educate parents on how to assist children in math concepts being taught now. It isn't being taught the same way as when we were kids," Matt Mallery, Grandview Middle School Principal, stated.

Because Compass High School students often have "parental issues," Principal Brian Anderson said the school has students sign an "Agreement for Success," and the school is working on an agreement for parents.

"One possibility is for parents to spend half a day with the student to see what they are learning," he said.

Grandview High School Principal Arcella Hall said a possibility to help parents is to "meet them where they are and not make them meet us where we are." She elaborated by saying the possibility of a graduation specialist meeting with parents, much like a home visitor does, could help parents become more connected with the benefits of an education.

She said her school has also been looking at the retention rates of the student population with a focus on the ninth graders. "We need to establish a foundation for them," she said.

Assistant Principal Mike Closner of Grandview High School pointed out that the school has been looking at the benefits of a six-period school day. "We would be able to isolate lunch for the ninth grade students and keep them here (on campus)," he said, noting the staff had been meeting to discuss such issues recently.

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