The Union Leader published a great piece recently about the great job the Josiah Bartlett Elementary School and other New Hampshire schools with limited resources are doing by focusing on the needs of each child (answer: school leadership). Now the Concord Monitor reports on how Allenstown Elementary moved from “low-performing” to high performing by crafting its own strategy for each child.
Allenstown and Bartlett illustrate how local efforts can more effective for all New Hampshire students than diverting tax money to send a few kids to private schools as SB 193 would do.
Here are some highlights from the Monitor:
For nearly as long as the federal government has been in the business of using test scores to measure achievement, Allenstown Elementary has found itself on some sort of list of low performers….
[But] Teachers and Blinn said the school had been making efforts to personalize instruction, grouping students according to specific skills they needed to work on, and giving them more freedom with their assignments.
“It’s looking at each child individually, rather than just a whole group,” third-grade teacher Brigitte Paquin said.
On the technology side, the school used grant dollars to purchase Chromebooks and boost classroom libraries.
But the biggest difference, they said, might have come from changes outside the classroom. Every six weeks, teachers meet with administrators, special education staff and support staff to talk about every child’s progress, strengths and weaknesses…..
“Everyone’s there,” said Kim Clark, a special education teacher. “The reading specialist is there, the speech pathologist is there, and the guidance counselor is there. So we can really talk about the whole child in those meetings, and not just, ‘She’s having trouble with reading.’ ”
The process can be tough to balance, because it means time outside the classroom for teachers and special education staff. But Clark said it has been particularly helpful at catching those kids who weren’t the lowest performers, but who also weren’t progressing much, if at all….
Lindsay Goulet, the mother of a first-grader, grew up in Bow. She and her husband bought a home in Allenstown before Goulet was pregnant, and were leery of sending their son to the town’s elementary school when he was old enough.
“We’d never heard great things about the school,” she said.
But based on what she’s seen, the school has made big strides.
“The staff around here leads with their hearts,” she said.
Her son comes home energized from school, and never frustrated, she said. They asked parents for ideas about extra-curriculars, she said, and she suggested the Lego League.
“I’d always hear people say, ‘Communication isn’t very good.’ But they’ve really changed that,” she said.
(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)