Struggling schools get boost with extra funds.Byline: Anne Williams The Register-Guard
In the Howard Elementary School elementary school: see school. computer lab last week, Chris Evans' fourth- and fifth-graders were getting their first peek at Web pages they'd built themselves, which Evans had posted on the Internet the night before.
The students didn't miss a beat as Evans rattled rat·tle 1
v. rat·tled, rat·tling, rat·tles
a. To make or emit a quick succession of short percussive sounds.
b. off directions, tossing out such terms as "html" and "QuickTime video" and "iTunes soundtrack."
"It's fun, but it can be a little frustrating frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: sometimes," fourth-grader Bemnia Lathan said of designing her page, which features, among other things, exquisite alternating drawings - all done through AppleWorks Paint and Draw - of a single landscape, first bathed in sunshine, then in a thunderstorm thunderstorm, violent, local atmospheric disturbance accompanied by lightning, thunder, and heavy rain, often by strong gusts of wind, and sometimes by hail. . "I had to start over a couple of times."
It's complicated, sophisticated work, Evans said - and the skills these children are mastering now will give them an edge as they move through school and beyond.
Evans wants to make Howard a technology powerhouse A fourth-generation language from Cognos that was introduced in the late 1970s for midrange computers. It supports both character-oriented, terminal-based applications as well as Windows clients. Applications developed under PowerHouse can be imported into Cognos' Axiant client/server environment. , unrivaled among local elementary schools. It's a goal many of his colleagues and boss, Principal Kim Finch finch, common name for members of the Fringillidae, the largest family of birds (including over half the known species), found in most parts of the world except Australia. , share - and one that suddenly seems within the realm of possibility.
Howard, in the River Road area of north Eugene, was one of four neighborhood elementary schools - all with high percentages of low-income students - that will receive $200,000 over the next two years to bolster academics, close the achievement gap and design sustainable programs aimed at attracting more students. The Eugene School Board designated these schools and one other, south Eugene's Harris, which will receive $150,000, "academy" schools, and pledged the funds during budget deliberations.
Finch, who believes that technology and achievement are closely entwined, called the planning that is under way now "the most exciting thing I've done in nine years of administration."
"I think initially last spring our staff was probably a little bit cautious, not exactly sure what it would mean," she said of the school board's decision - based on one in a long list of recommendations by Superintendent George Russell For other persons named George Russell, see George Russell (disambiguation).
George Allen Russell (born June 23, 1923) is an American jazz pianist, composer and theorist. - to single out the five schools. "But after the site visits (to other schools), I think our staff has just caught fire with the potential we have."
Three of the academy schools - Howard, River Road/El Camino del Rio Del Rio (rē`ō), city (1990 pop. 30,705), seat of Val Verde co., W Tex., on the Rio Grande opposite Ciudad Acuña, Mexico; founded 1868, inc. 1911. and Cesar Chavez Noun 1. Cesar Chavez - United States labor leader who organized farm workers (born 1927)
Cesar Estrada Chavez, Chavez in southwest Eugene - serve large numbers of Latino students, some of whom are learning English. In recent years, these schools have struggled the most with state test scores and the so-called "achievement gap" that separates students by socioeconomic status socioeconomic status,
n the position of an individual on a socio-economic scale that measures such factors as education, income, type of occupation, place of residence, and in some populations, ethnicity and religion. , race and ethnicity.
All five schools - the fifth is Adams, in south Eugene - receive federal Title I money, which is meant to enhance reading and math instruction at high-poverty schools. Each school has a poverty rate - gauged by the percentage of students in the free- and reduced-price lunch program - of at least 63 percent.
The academy schools share another characteristic: All lose large numbers of children in their attendance areas to other schools.
That's true with other neighborhood schools, too, and the phenomenon has sparked a sometimes bitter community debate in recent years over the district's system of open school choice and alternative, or magnet, elementary schools. Most of the nine alternative schools, and a few affluent neighborhood schools, enroll disproportionately dis·pro·por·tion·ate
Out of proportion, as in size, shape, or amount.
dispro·por low numbers of low-income, minority and special education students. The academy schools, meanwhile, serve disproportionately high numbers of students who fit those descriptions.
Russell's recommendations came in response to a report by the Access and Options Committee, which studied the school choice issue. Strengthening neighborhood schools, especially those that are struggling most, was key among the committee's suggestions.
Some staff members and parents at the academy schools had misgivings early on, wondering if being labeled and highlighted as a struggling school would further erode Erode (ĕrōd`), city (1991 urban agglomeration pop. 361,755), Tamil Nadu state, S India, on the Kaveri River. The city is located in a cotton-growing region, and its industries include cotton ginning and the manufacture of transport equipment. interest among the middle-class families they wish to attract.
But principals say that's largely been outweighed by a realization of the opportunities the funding and attention could bring.
Howard first-grade teacher Linda Kirk Senator Linda Kirk, as an undergraduate student at the University of Adelaide, became involved with the on-campus Labor Club and joined the ALP in 1988.
In 1990 she graduated from the University of Adelaide with a First Class Honours degree in Law and a degree in Economics. , who's taught at the school for a decade, said she was energized by a recent visit to Beaver beaver, either of two large aquatic rodents, Castor fiber and Castor canadensis, known for their engineering feats. They were once widespread in N and central Eurasia except E Siberia, and in North America from the arctic tree line to the S United Acres Elementary in Beaverton, a school with similar demographics The attributes of people in a particular geographic area. Used for marketing purposes, population, ethnic origins, religion, spoken language, income and age range are examples of demographic data. and strong student test scores. Beaver Acres was one of five Oregon schools given awards by Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo Susan Castillo (born August 14 1951) heads the Oregon Department of Education as the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Although she currently holds an elective statewide non-partisan office, she is a Democrat, and served from 1997 to 2003 in the Oregon State for its success in closing the achievement gap. (Bethel's Fairfield Elementary School was also one of those, and several academy school teachers and principals have visited there, too.)
The visit reinforced Kirk's confidence in some of the tools and strategies Howard already uses, but also gave her new ideas "New Ideas" is the debut single by Scottish New Wave/Indie Rock act The Dykeenies. It was first released as a Double A-side with "Will It Happen Tonight?" on July 17, 2006. The band also recorded a video for the track. , she said. For instance, she said, Beaver Acres uses small, child-sized books for reading instruction, offered in escalating skill levels, rather than a single text, she said.
"I think our whole staff is really excited about the opportunity we have to make some changes," she said.
Staff members at nearly all the academy schools have used funds for similar site visits. On Monday, River Road Principal Paco Furlan and four of his teachers will spend the day at Oak Grove Oak grove may refer to
Oak Grove is a common name for several places in the United States of America. Elementary in Medford, observing in classrooms and talking with staff.
"They've got really, really good results with ELL (English Language English language, member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). Spoken by about 470 million people throughout the world, English is the official language of about 45 nations. Learner) kids," Furlan told the group during a quick meeting Tuesday. "Their statistics are just amazing a·maze
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.
2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.
River Road Title I coordinator Carissa Boyce, who is also filling a new "student achievement coordinator" position paid for with academy funds, said the money came at a time when the school was already aggressively embracing new strategies. For instance, the school this year launched a new reading program and a new assessment system that closely monitors each student's reading progress and prescribes interventions.
It also stepped up the academic focus of its after-school program, offering a full hour of small-group instruction before enrichment activities.
Boyce likes the idea of year-round school Year-Round School is the operation of educational institutions on a calendar-system that tracks students into class schedules throughout the entire calendar year. A primary motivation is that higher student throughput is accomplished via more effective scheduling of school , as do staff members at several of the other schools. Such a schedule would keep students in class the same number of days, but shorten the summer break.
"All the things we're offering, like the extra doses of reading and the after-school program, can only do so much if it's lost over the summer," she said.
As for creating some kind of magnet programs to entice more middle class students, that must come second to focusing on student achievement, Boyce said. In fact, River Road had been considering a dual-language program, offering intensive Spanish and English instruction. While the school eventually may offer some elements of that, staff decided a full-fledged version would be difficult to sustain, given River Road's high turnover rate.
"We want our neighborhood schools to be at our school, but we also don't want to lose sight of the students we have here now," she said.
Finch and Evans believe cutting-edge technology can help close the achievement gap. The two were part of a team of staff members who visited Springfield Middle School, which last year launched a partnership with Apple Computer to place laptops in the hands of every student; some staff also visited other Apple-affiliated schools in Fullerton, Calif.
"It seemed to me to be the perfect way to motivate kids and get them doing high-level stuff and using a lot of skills," Evans said.
Furlan, like the principals of all five schools, said the No. 1 priority is zeroing in on student achievement - adopting the best available curriculum, honing Honing could refer to
"We believe that by having high-powered academic schools, that's going to be attractive in itself," he said.
Five Eugene neighborhood elementary schools will receive as much as $200,000 each over the next two years to boost academics, close the achievement gap and implement programs aimed at attracting more students. Here's what they've done so far:
Adams Elementary: The school has added a quarter-time student achievement coordinator and a quarter-time counselor. The funds also have paid to send staff members to a conference, and for professional books and staff planning and training time. Besides sharpening For image sharpening, see .
Sharpening is the process of creating or refining a sharp edge on a tool or implement. The term has a wide application but can be expressed as the creation of two intersecting planes which produce an edge that is sharp enough to cut through the target its focus on curriculum and teaching strategies, Adams also has kicked around the possibility of full-day kindergarten kindergarten [Ger.,=garden of children], system of preschool education. Friedrich Froebel designed (1837) the kindergarten to provide an educational situation less formal than that of the elementary school but one in which children's creative play instincts would be , a year-round calendar and some kind of "attraction" program with a multicultural theme.
Cesar Chavez Elementary: The school has added a half-time student achievement coordinator. Its primary aim is improving student achievement, with an emphasis on curriculum, progress monitoring and extra reading and math time. The funds are paying for staff planning and training time through the Reading First initiative and some curriculum materials, and will pay for future visits to other schools. While there's been talk of implementing a year-round calendar, Chavez hasn't gotten too far along in planning programs that might distinguish it from other schools, partly because the school is only in its second year.
Harris Elementary: Because it has a lower poverty rate, Harris will receive a bit less - $150,000 over two years - than the other four schools, which will all get $200,000. Harris has added a quarter-time counselor and a quarter-time student achievement coordinator. The funds have also paid for some planning and training time for staff members.
Howard Elementary: The school has added a half-time student achievement coordinator. Howard's initial focus will be on implementing a rigorous curriculum that extends across grades, but the staff also is exploring incorporating technology, including providing individual laptops for students. Funds have paid for visits to other schools and planning and training time.
River Road/El Camino del Rio Elementary: The school has added a part-time counselor position and a part-time student achievement coordinator position. Improving student achievement is the school's top priority. The school had been considering implementing a dual-language immersion immersion /im·mer·sion/ (i-mer´zhun)
1. the plunging of a body into a liquid.
2. the use of the microscope with the object and object glass both covered with a liquid. program, but cooled on the idea after further consideration and visits to other schools. The school still might offer some native-language literacy to Spanish speakers and some Spanish teaching for non-Spanish speakers, however. The funds have allowed staff to visit other schools, attend training and build on grant-funded initiatives, including an after-school program with an academic focus and a Reading First pilot program.
Chris Evans answers questions while his students build Web pages in his fourth- and fifth-grade class at Howard Elementary School.