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Improvements at Mabton schools being addressed

MABTON – Less than a week into the 2013-14 school year, principals in the Mabton School District are already looking at ways to better their schools.

This past Monday evening, Mabton Jr/Sr High School Principal Caleb Oten told the school board during its monthly business meeting that the big priority right now is keeping seniors on track to graduation. He says as of now 39 seniors are on schedule to graduate next spring.

To help students succeed, Oten said teachers and students will every two weeks have back-to-back days with 90 minutes of concentrated course time for tests and mentoring. Basically, on those days two class periods will be condensed into one longer time frame for more intensive work.

Other goals moving forward, he notes, include having 100 percent of all lessons at the jr/sr high aligned to Common Core state standards. “We want to work ahead rather than play catch-up,” Oten said.

Another improvement goal for the school year ahead is to increase by 10 percent the number of students meeting or exceeding state requirements. Oten, a first-year principal and former Sunnyside High School teacher, said there has been goal setting in the past at the school but these benchmarks were never reached. The idea, he explained, is to set goals that are achievable, then re-evaluate and make them more challenging if need be.

Steps are also underway at the jr/sr high school to help parents track student academic progress on-line. He said during conferences there will be computer stations where parents can be trained and then see first-hand how they can monitor student achievement on-line.

Artz-Fox Elementary School Principal Angie Ozuna said one of the big improvement goals for that school during 2013-14 is to meet the state average of 65 percent of students meeting grade level standards in math.

Likewise, Ozuna says the elementary school’s goal is to meet the state average of 72 percent of students reaching state requirements in literacy.

In addition, Ozuna says steps are underway to help elementary students view bigger goals than just graduating from high school. For example, she noted pennants are displayed at the school showing the various colleges Artz-Fox staffers attended.

Superintendent Minerva Morales is enthusiastic about the improvement plans, and the progress she’s already seen this school year. “I’m really excited about the work that has already kicked off.”

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