Hayden school receives grant for academic achievement
HaydenHayden — Thanks to a $39,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Education, Hayden Middle School is embarking on a three-year program that should further individualize each student's instruction while continuing to bring curriculum in line with new state standards. — Thanks to a $39,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Education, Hayden Middle School is embarking on a three-year program that should further individualize each student's instruction while continuing to bring curriculum in line with new state standards.
Hayden — Thanks to a $39,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Education, Hayden Middle School is embarking on a three-year program that should further individualize each student’s instruction while continuing to bring curriculum in line with new state standards.
The “Advancing Student Academic Achievement Grant” will allow middle school staff to go through several years of progressive training with the National Literacy Coalition.
“This grant is basically to establish a standards-based system of instruction, curriculum and assessment and a schoolwide philosophy in which we will differentiate instruction based on student need within the classroom,” Hayden Middle School Principal Colleen Poole said.
One aspect of the grant will help Hayden Middle School accomplish what schools everywhere are trying to do develop a curriculum that is in line with new state educational standards in terms of subject matter and the way information is taught.
An equally important aspect of the grant is it will provide for implementation of a “differentiated delivery system” so that each child’s individual educational needs are met.
Key to doing that is the development of “Individual Learning Plans,” or ILPs, for each student.
The ILPs are sort of checklists of skills that each student must learn to meet the state standards. As they progress through the grades, each child’s ILP goes with him or her and indicates to the teacher specifically what skills that student already has, what trouble areas need further work and what skills will come next.
At both the middle and elementary school levels, grant funds are being used to teach teachers how to use the ILPs, once they are implemented, and how to customize instruction within the classroom to each student’s needs.
“It’s a three-year process in which we will work with (the National Literacy Coalition), working with staff, to help align the curriculum and develop this standards-based instruction,” Poole said. “Kids will be going grade to grade and, along with learning the things taught at that grade, there will also be more individualized instruction on the specific standards they need to work on.”
Moving to that “differentiated delivery system” that allows students to work on their individual standard needs and establishing a standards-based philosophy for instruction throughout the school will require training over several years, Poole said.
Once the new system is in place, it will change the school day not just for teachers, but for their students as well. The ILPs are intended to give the students themselves more accountability in the learning process.
“We want the students to know exactly what skills they are working on,” said Hayden Valley Elementary School Principal Mike Luppes, whose staff is also working with the National Literacy Coalition to implement the same things in its language arts and math instruction.
“We want to focus students on what the purpose of the lesson is, what they need to get out of it and what skills they have progressed to. When they go home at night, they should be able to tell their parents specifically what skill they worked on that day: ‘We worked on subject-verb agreement; we worked on putting a capital letter at the beginning of each sentence and a period at the end.”‘
The elementary school is slightly further into the training process than the middle school. The elementary received its $50,000 grant from the National Literacy Coalition last spring and had its first teacher training sessions in June. The middle school was just awarded the Advancing Student Academic Achievement grant late this summer.
In terms of changes brought by the grants that students or their parents will actually notice, those will likely not come until the end of this year or the next.
“There will be some subtle changes as teachers begin to implement what we’ve learned, but the major implementation probably won’t come until next year,” Poole said. “When the ILPs go into use, they will be explained to parents in-depth so that everyone parents, students, teachers and administrators alike are all informed and part of the educational process.”
At the elementary school level, where language arts and math are the specific focus areas of the $50,000 grant, teachers on the language arts team already are in full swing to improve their program
Having already completed one, one-week training session, language arts teachers will spend the week before classes start developing a schoolwide philosophy for teaching language arts basically coming to agreement on a standard way that language arts skills will be taught in every grade level.
“We will look at what we do and what the standards require,” Luppes said. “We hope to have the learning plans in place (for language arts) by the end of the year. We envision, down the road, that parents won’t just ask for a grade is my kid getting an A, B, C or D? but they will want to know their child’s proficiency level.”