Garfield Re-2 trying to zero in on improving student performance |

Garfield Re-2 trying to zero in on improving student performance

Tough questions lay ahead for figuring out what’s causing lower student academic performances currently within the Garfield Re-2 School District.

School board members last week asked whether it’s special education students or English Language Learners needing more target intervention, or if negative trends were evident even before the COVID-19 pandemic. They also questioned if its students are simply avoiding school work because they’re perhaps more concerned about fitting in.

“In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with our children,” School Board Member Christina Maness said. “We just need to meet them where they need to be met, with target interventions.”

Secondary and elementary curriculum directors Jacob Pingel and Simone Richardson have been collecting student performance data over the past school year. They first presented the data to the board in September 2022.

Mid-year data presented to the board on Feb. 8 still show gaps in student achievement. The numbers, collected through a computer adaptive test called iReady, show the majority of Re-2 elementary and middle school students performing at one, two and sometimes three grades below grade level in math and reading — which, however, is relatively on par with national trends.

But by looking at the trends and test scores through iReady, the district is better able to use the data to intervene where intervention is necessary.

And because of this, slowly but surely, student achievement is beginning to pick up, Richardson noted. For instance, intervention programs — increasing practice tests, connecting with families, deploying special coaches and more — has bolstered second grade academic performance. Students performing at or above grade level increased 32-37% between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, numbers show.

“We are starting to see trends that are going in the right direction this year,” Richardson said. “We know this is a big problem, but you also see in the strategic plan it’s a big lofty goal for us.”

Pingel said, however, the district still needs to use the sources they have to determine shifts in demographics — does the student population look the same, what student populations are ELL or SPED?

Either way, Pingel said the district can’t continue to ignore the whole child itself — whether that’s socially or academically.

“If we can maintain this year and prevent any more regression, we’re doing really good,” he said. “Because we don’t want our baseline to get any worse.”

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