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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Roosevelt School District Reacts to Low AIMS Scores

During the 2006-2007 school year, the Roosevelt School District had some of the lowest AIMS scores in the state, but district administrators remain optimistic about what they see as imminent changes.

According to Susan Iniguez, the district’s director of Curriculum and Assessment, the district is “working toward an upper trajectory,” reporting that several district schools showed improvements in writing, reading, and math compared to recent years, while the state’s overall average this year showed a decline. Iniguez was especially proud of Roosevelt students’ advancement in writing. “There was a huge spike in third grade writing this past year. Overall our writing, every grade level, was very strong. Not only did we gain in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding, but our percentages were higher than seven of our neighbors. Four districts showed a decrease. We have a ways to go, but it is something to celebrate.”

While district administrators look positively at its schools academic programs, board members are concerned about district students’ continued low academic performance. Governing Board Member Betty Thompson stated, “What’s unfortunate is our children don’t have the necessary skills to be prepared when they move on to the next grade. We keep hoping for improvement, but our children are the ones that suffer and have to struggle because they don’t have a solid education.”

Governing Board Member Jimmie Muñoz knows the district needs much more work.

“I know we’ve done some improvements over the year, but what’s going to happen that’s new for next year, what with the help of consultants and programs we’ve had?”

Iniguez said the district will continue to benefit from its consultants. The district is working with Educational Supermarket, an academic consulting service that will analyze Roosevelt’s AIMS data and work with schools to point out their weak areas. The district will also continue to keep coaches at school sites to work directly with teachers. Iniguez stressed that providing opportunities for professional development to teachers will be crucial in student advancement. She also plans to focus on students’ reading skills.

“We’re implementing a new reading program this year. Reading is, in my mind, one of the key areas where we can support our children. It’s the gateway to all areas.” Iniguez is also researching options for new math programs to implement in schools.

Governing Board Member Norma Muñoz is specifically concerned with catching problems children may have early on in the school year. “You need to work with children showing that downward trend. It’s refreshing to see us going up a little bit. Of course, we’re still on the bottom. By September, we should start identifying those who have trouble and working with them instead of waiting until the end of the year.”

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niguez agreed and said programs like summer tutoring will help with intervention.

“Ideally, intervention is a point where you see a child unable to perform on level. You put support in place immediately, identifying students who didn’t do well in the previous year and give them tools to perform better the next year.”

The district’s superintendent, Dr. Mark Dowling is especially enthusiastic about the district’s new curriculum map, which has been a work in progress for more than a year. “We’ve finally completed the problem of curriculum. It’s not only aligned with the state, it’s the same throughout the district instead of each school having its own.”

Iniguez adds that even the process of building the curriculum map has been incredible.

“Since spring, teachers have been coming in to work with these teachers. We had 400 teachers at the summer institute, and they continue to work on it over the summer. These assessments will provide teachers with timely information to ensure their students are learning what they need to be. It will be very helpful in improving our instruction.”

Dowling also described other areas the district plans to focus on in the coming year in addition to the curriculum map. “Another change is a district-wide focus on nine key effective instructional strategies and working with coaches to instruct teachers. A third area is improvements in our assessment system. The fourth is how we work together. There’s an emphasis this year on collaboration . . . and working around the school teams. I do believe we have the potential for a breakthrough year because of really improving some of the things we were working toward last year, but now they’re concrete pieces.”

Governing Board President Betty Ware also remains optimistic about Roosevelt’s academic direction.

“We have a long way to go, but we’re looking forward to having even better scores in the future. I’m very excited.”

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