Garfield Re-2’s educational focus is paying dividends |

Garfield Re-2’s educational focus is paying dividends

Re-2 News
Theresa Hamilton
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Theresa Hamilton

Last year, third grade reading CSAP scores in Garfield Re-2 saw a 12-point increase compared to the year before. Across the district, the hard work of our teachers and staff is paying off in closing the achievement gaps in reading for our Hispanic students, our free and reduced lunch students, and boys.

Early data for this year indicates that our students are on the right track to continue the upward trend in reading. Our assessment data is strong and improving. Over the last three years, using multiple assessments to track reading achievement, Garfield Re-2 has improved from 59 percent of our first- through eighth-grade students reading at grade level to 70 percent at the end of the first quarter. That means 336 more elementary and middle school students are reading on grade level.

There is no doubt that results like these depend upon the tireless work of our teachers and staff. They have all made the commitment to each and every student to do whatever it takes to help them succeed – through extra time, through intervention classes, or by providing more challenging work to our advanced students. The results are good, the trend is moving upward, but we realize that we still have work to do.

In addition to the hard work of our staff, it takes processes to support them. Over the last three years, Garfield Re-2 has focused upon providing those support networks for our teachers and staff.

Three years ago, with the help of much teacher and staff input, Garfield Re-2 implemented a uniform reading program, Success For All (SFA). Rather than have each building use a different program to teach reading, all elementary and middle school buildings now use SFA.

Students are organized by reading level every quarter. They receive instruction at their current skill level and the flexible groups mean that they can move quickly as they master they skills.

The uniform reading program fosters collaboration among teachers because the data that they receive is the same. The teachers are using the same terms to talk about lessons and student data. It also provides consistency for our students as they advance and change reading teachers, and for those who transfer within the school district.

Much attention has been given to the Response to Intervention process (RtI) as well. Response to Intervention is a tiered structure that supports teachers and students. It details the kinds of assistance a student may need to become successful in a specific area. If, for example, a student is struggling in reading, an additional 30-minute block of reading time may be used to assist the student. If the student needs additional help, the interventions become more specific until the right combination of instruction is found.

In addition, the Garfield Re-2 administrators at all levels are in classrooms performing regular walkthroughs of classrooms. Data is clear that the No. 1 influence on student achievement is the classroom teacher. During walkthroughs, our staff looks for specific, best practices in classrooms – are the standards and expectations for the lesson posted, is there a way for students to assess where they are in the journey to mastering a skill, does the teacher allow opportunities for students to learn from each other, participate in the lesson and have the expectation that every student be able to answer every question? This year, walkthroughs are performed by teams of district administrators and principals. A high school principal will see how things are done in their feeder middle school and vice-a-versa. This too will lead to better conversations among principals and their staffs, and a deeper understanding of instruction at different levels.

These are just a few of the things that Garfield School District Re-2 is doing to continue helping every student become a better readers.

If you have questions about anything regarding the Garfield School District Re-2, please contact Theresa Hamilton at 970-665-7621.

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