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Poised for Success
Silver Valley test scores ranked No. 2 in county
Every day in school for 15 to 20 minutes second-grader Robert Burmeister visits the Newberry Springs Elementary School computer lab to play. While these computer games may be fun, they are also boosting his reading and phonics, his principal said. These computer games are played by nearly every student in the district and they are the chief reason, administrators say, the district has seen a recent spike in state testing scores.
Silver Valley’s improvements mirrored statewide climbs in the percentage of students, grades 2 to 11, who scored proficient or higher on the 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test. Each April, students take the test to measure proficiency in Englishlanguage arts, math, history, science and various specified courses.
A greater rate of Silver Valley Unified School District students scored proficient or higher on all subjects across the board compared to 2011 scores — topping county averages.
“I’m so very proud of the hard work staff continue to do in the academic arena,” said Superintendent Marc Jackson.
Now the second highest scoring district in the county, Silver Valley administrators blame much of their success to the newly implemented computer-based learning systems, such as System 44, which Robert plays.
Students from Kindergarten to high school use the computer systems that were designed to target and train in the areas a student needs improvement in.
“We saw tremendous growth in the students that were using the (systems),” said Heidi Chavez, principal of Newberry Springs Elementary School. “It didn’t matter what their level was – they were going up.”
But the computer systems are just one of several factors the led to the district’s recent success, said Micheline Miglis, SVUSD assistant superintendent of education services.
It began with a thorough longitudinal data analysis in 2010 wherein district leaders took a hard look at their numbers and compared that with their target scores, Miglis said. The results of this analysis were shared with parents and the public .
“We determined we were not where we wanted to be,” Miglis said.
That’s when district leaders implemented stronger professional learning programs for teachers, Miglis said. Principals became coaches to their teachers and training sessions were more frequent.
Principals and teachers also began to hold student-monitoring conferences two to three times a year where they would discuss each student and their academic growth, Miglis said. Students needing help in any specific area of learning received Response to Intervention (RTI) training two to three times a week. There they work closely with teacher’s aids on specific need areas.
“Each school has RTI for students who need help … to have that extra time and to fill holes and gaps in their learning,” Miglis said.
And with the support of a responsive school board, the district was poised FOR success, Miglis said.
“I’m so thrilled at the teacher training program and how our principals have become instruction leaders,” Jackson said. “Most importantly I’m thrilled that our students are taking ownership in their learning and are engaged in the classroom.”