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Elementary students' progress detailed for school board

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The Grandview School Board heard a presentation on math and reading teaching efforts from the district’s three elementary school principals, (L-R) Julie Wysong, Jared Lind and Jose Rivera.

GRANDVIEW - The Grandview School Board welcomed the district's three elementary school principals at the Monday, Oct. 25, meeting. The principals were present to give the school board an update on their schools and efforts to improve scores.

The school board received the math and reading scores for the third, fourth and fifth grades. The scores recorded the last three years of testing, including the WASL tests given from 2007 to 2009, and the district's new state assessment, the MSP (Measurements of Student Progress) administered last school year.

Board Director Alfonso Contreras noted that the results for reading were fairly stable throughout the grades and years, but there was a significant drop in math after the third grade.

Most notably were the 2007-08 third grade results. The graph showed that 43.8 percent of third graders passed the WASL that year, but the next year (2008-09) only 19.5 percent of those students were passing.

Contreras wanted to know what the schools are doing to address this significant drop.

Jared Lind for Smith Elementary said that a drop between third and fourth grade is common throughout the state but the Grandview elementary schools are seeking to align their education by focusing on the most important state standards and teaching them until students master them.

Along with that, Lind revealed the school district is implementing new assessment and teaching strategies that will focus on helping students work through wrong answers and think critically.

Lind also revealed that teachers are seeking more intervention help for their students and reaching out to parents.

"Learning needs to continue outside of the school day," he said.

He talked about their after-school program "Do the Math" and a free online website (xtramath.org), where parents can sign students up to do 15-20 minutes of math at home.

Julie Wysong, principal at Harriet Thompson Elementary School, also said that math needs to be studied outside of the classroom, like reading commonly is.

She said that doing math outside of the classroom should come as naturally to students as picking up a book and reading.

McClure Elementary Principal Jose Rivera added that the key to getting these scores up will be ensuring a collaborative effort between administrators, teachers, parents and the community.

"The parent component is critical," he emphasized.

Wysong also discussed the reading scores with the school board.

Last year's reading scores, she noted, were down from the year before, but she noted that this was the transition year, when the school stopped using WASL testing and switched to MSP.

Because of this change, students were made to complete the reading portion in one day, but she is confident that these results will improve.

"We are seeing the changes already," she said. "It may not be on the MSP now, but we are seeing it in the classroom."

And with that, the principals invited the school board to come into their buildings and take a tour.

"We really do have world-class teachers in our buildings," Lind said, "And world-class students."

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