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Chatfield Schools looks at American Reading Company system

Mon, Feb 27th, 2012
Posted in Chatfield Features

The 100 Book Challenge (100 BC) system is a systematic approach to foster independent reading from the American Reading Company. Elementary principal Craig Ihrke and teacher on special assignment Judith Brockway pitched the program to the school board at their February 21 meeting.

Ihrke noted that the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) started this day with the 4th graders and about half were successful. He said on reading scores, female students do better than male students. Ihrke suggested that there is not a culture of reading in our community. He added that parental involvement is also missing.

In order to increase scores there needs to be a culture change; students need to practice and be taught how to practice. Ihrke said that with 100 BC there is an accountability system, a focus on goals, and the availability of high interest non-fiction books. Parents are encouraged to be advocates for the culture of reading and would receive the tools to be effective co-educators. He said the system has been proven to improve math scores.

Ihrke said they should provide the system all the way through the sixth grade to provide consistency. He said there will be some up front costs and they will need to maintain two paraprofessionals. Judith Brockway will coordinate their efforts. Ihrke said he was certain scores would improve. He recommended implementing the RtI (response to intervention) accountability framework next year.

Brockway said she had visited schools in Rochester with this system in place that had not seen results until they implemented the RtI framework. She maintained it puts everyone on the same page and changes the culture and aligns with what we have been doing.

Brockway noted they are currently focusing on student achievement through the 6 A’s, the six steps to a guaranteed and viable curriculum, but are not getting the results that they should. They need one system to synchronize their efforts. Students need to read well to do well in other areas. She insisted they need to love to read.

Brockway said they need to align their curriculum with Minnesota state standards. The reality is we need to set priorities. There has to be a way to learn what students know, always need to be assessing.

Brockway described the need for students to keep up, as they are facing fierce competition from across the world during these times of globalization. Students need to be prepared for rapid technological changes. She said our educational system was not designed to teach today’s students that think differently due to the digital divide. The work force demographic is changing. Students need to learn to read and to think. Most students will have ten or more careers in their life time.

The Action 100 RtI Accountability System is a 12 step model to transform school cultures for sustainable student achievement. Brockway said this is what we are looking for. Students will be assessed to determine their reading level. The system gives the teachers the tools. She noted most high school students don’t read well enough for entry level careers. Brockway insisted all students must be good readers to be successful in the twenty-first century. “All teachers are reading teachers.”

Ihrke and Brockway recommended the implementation of the system for pre-k through 6 to start with. Ihrke admitted there would be a substantial cost, but insisted the return on the dollar amount would be fantastic.

No decision on the system was made. Superintendent Ed Harris said the program is hard to capture in just one evening. Chairman Jerry Chase said too much money has been thrown at things that haven’t worked, adding this could work.

Other Business In Brief

•High school principal Randy Paulson reported the new Odysseyware online courses are up and running. Parents are excited about this opportunity for their kids. Paulson explained 23 students are taking 27 different classes for 18 different courses.

Paulson noted the students have three opportunities to pass the MCAs. The students who pass the first time won’t have to take them again this year. There are enrichment classes (computerized programs) for those who don’t pass above and beyond their current math class. The enrichment classes center on a student’s weaknesses and help build their skills.

•Harris commented on the No Child Left Behind waiver. He said the state is building sample models for teachers and principals.

•A special meeting will be held on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss resources and staff allocations for next year.

•The annual payment of $5,000 was approved to CCTV.

•Parent-teacher conferences for grades 7-12 will be on February 23 and 27. Parent-teacher conferences for grades K-6 will be on February 23 and 28.

•March 19 will be the next regular scheduled school board meeting.

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