CAHS, MS give School Improvement Reports to board

— Carman- Ainsworth Board of Education learned more about Carman Ainsworth High School and Middle School’s School Improvement Reports at its Oct. 5 meeting.

CAHS Principal Rory Mattar, along with Assistant Principal Jeff Dompreh, gave the school’s report to the board, mainly focusing on its goals for students regarding increased proficiency on standardized tests in reading and math. Mattar told the board that high school students are performing below state average in Michigan Merit Exam (MME) scores in reading. The average ACT Reading score for Carman-Ainsworth High School was 18.3 compared to the state’s average of 19.7.

“Fifty percent of students are below grade level expectations in reading,” Mattar said. He also reported that high school students performed below state average on the MME/ACT Math test.

To combat the results, Mattar said the high school will implement new reading strategies, which include staff Professional Development (PD) and building academic vocabulary using Marzano’s six-step process. The high school also will use pre and post-test assessments to measure students’ growth, along with Reading Plus, Star and ninth- and tenth-grade English Language Arts (ELA) block grade classes.

“Reading Plus has helped students gained the reading equivalence of approximately 300 grade levels,” Mattar said. The high school measures the increase in grade levels based upon where a student’s proficiency was at the beginning and how many grade levels he/she gains at the end. Dompreh told the board that 400 students at Carman-Ainsworth High School were targeted for improvement, but not all 400 had made it through the program.

“Overall, 200 kids made 300 grade level jumps,” Dompreh said. “Some students did not gain any at all, but others gained several.”

In regards to math, Mattar said staff will employ several strategies to boost students’ test performance, such as an Interactive Vocabulary Organizer Notebook, use of graphic organizers, such as Venn diagrams and Response to Intervention measures. The high school also will align its common assessments to College Readiness Standards, and begin using differentiated instruction. Effectiveness of the implementations will measured through various assessments.

Supt. Bill Haley said the results from the ACT Reading and Math scores were not an accurate reflection on the high school and ultimately, the district.

“We are trying to break through and look at things in different ways. This does not reflect what really happens due to the absences. How do you impact somebody who’s not here?,” he said. “We owe it to our teachers to show how much they impact our students. I can’t get excited about being average. The planning, effort and working together is not average; it’s more than average. We have a good balance of fixing the gaps and helping everybody.”

Mattar agreed with Haley, saying teachers have a difficult job working with students who do not attend school regularly. On a positive note, Mattar said the high school has 176 Advanced Placement (AP) students taking 287 sections of AP classes.

After the high school’s report, Carman- Ainsworth Middle School Principal Kevin Summey, accompanied by Assistant Principals Vikki Wandmacher and Rick Kalinin, gave the middle school’s report. LIke the high school, the middle school will be focusing on students gaining proficiency in reading and math. The school also plans to address and improve its behavior and building climate.

Wandmacher informed the board that results from the MEAP show that middle school students made less than a year’s growth in a year’s time in math, and tests indicate that nearly 50 percent of students are below grade level in reading.

“There also are high numbers of behavioral referrals which equals a lot of time out of the class and too many disruptions,” she said.

For this year, the middle school’s focus goals will be on building academic vocabulary using Marzano’s six-step process. The school also will utilize RtI, which includes Tier II Interventions of summer school, Saturday school, Lunch Help Support and after school tutoring. The school’s new target activities for combating its reading scores will be the Successmaker program, the Making Meaning program and adolescent reading strategies.

In the area of math, Wandmacher said the first strategy will be to utilize visual constructs, followed by RtI and building vocabulary.

For the math target activities, the school will use Successmaker Math Lab classes, along with Elevated Learning in three of its regular math classes. Elevated Learning involves students receiving online tutoring from a tutor in India.

Along with the goals of improving proficiency in reading and math, the middle school also seeks to increase instructional time with Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and RtI.

Wandmacher said one of the targets with PBS is teaching students expectations and reinforcing those expectations. “Success will be measured by a reduction in referrals and through parent, student and staff surveys,” she said.

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