Yesterday, the Business First magazine came out with the rankings for the WNY Elementary Schools. Queen of Heaven School was ranked at 151 in the standings. This ranking is based on a combination of 4th Grade NYS ELA and Math scores from 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010. Last year (2013) the state implemented a new scoring rubric based on Common Core standards that was far more rigorous than in previous years. The data that came out from the New York State Education Department last Fall stated that only 33% of 4th grade and 8th grade students across New York state had passed the Math and ELA tests. In light of this, educators across the state of New York knew that the test scores last year would reflect a drop in rankings overall. Having said that, our Middle School rankings in Business First that came out today, reflect our middle school ranked at number 19 up from 22 in 2013. We have also been placed in the top five for our middle school ELA program.
This year (2014) is the first year for an all Common Core state exam in math and ELA. Our scores for this year will not be known to us until later this summer. All teachers noticed the increase in the rigor of the passages, questioning, and math problem solving requirements.
So, what is the plan going forward, and how will our school rise to the challenge of the rigor? Quite simply, we will continue to build on the new programs that were put into place this year:
a) Guided Reading Groups in grades K-2 based on children’s instructional level.
b) Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), Early Literacy Profiles (ELPs), and progress monitoring for grades PK-2.
c) Balanced Literacy model which addresses all areas of literacy development; comprehension, phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and fluency.
d) Increased Academic Intervention Services (AIS) time during and after school for grades K-2 focusing on foundational skills and 3-6 focusing on comprehension and writing skills.
e) Consumable Common Core workbooks (Math and ELA) and other instructional materials to supplement curriculum for grades 3-8.
f) Flexible academic schedules to allow for blocks of ELA and Math instruction time.
g) Flexible teaching schedules to allow all teachers to “push in” to classrooms to deliver direct instruction of small groups.
h) Staff professional development training in the Common Core requirements and modules for ELA and Math.
i) Increase in technology devices to stimulate class and enhance instruction and hand-on learning.
With the increase in our student and staff population, an emphasis will continue to be put on increase rigor during the day. Our staff members that have been hired have been selected due to their literacy and math programs, and the ability to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners.
Our school day will reflect the strengths of all our professionals and our common goal to use the data from this year’s testing to drive our instruction for next year. A strong home-school connection will continue to be fostered to help secure our children’s and our school’s future.
What can you do to help? Each teacher has thoughtfully put together Summer Reading to continue the work being done during the year. Please have your child(ren) spend some quality time reading and completing assignments that accompany the summer reading. Also, each child should keep up with learning the necessary math facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Both of these things will ensure that your child(ren) will be ready to hit the ground running in the Fall.
It is my hope and belief that the programs started this year, combined with the new changes for next year will give us the boost in our student learning, curriculum (and our standings) that we have worked hard for.
Mary Damico, Principal