Field Elementary meets progress goals

Friday, August 17, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:23 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Carol Garman celebrates even the smallest of successes.

Now, the principal of Field Elementary School has got something really big to celebrate.

“You cannot even imagine,” she said after learning her school had met Adequate Yearly Progress, the percentage of students required to score proficient or advanced on the Missouri Assessment Program. Preliminary results were released this week.

Last year, the school, which had 222 students in 2006, faced sanctions after failing to meet progress goals in mathematics. The year before, Field did not meet standards in communication arts. That designated the school for “level one improvement” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. That means Field students can transfer to other elementary schools in the district. Garman said the school remains under the same designation for improvement and must meet progress goals again next year before the designation is lifted.

“We are nowhere near where we want to be,” Garman said. “But this is such good validation that what we’re doing is taking us in the right direction.”

Preliminary MAP results released this week by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education showed Field met yearly progress through a provision called safe harbor. No Child Left Behind requires a certain percentage of students in public schools to achieve proficiency or above on the MAP test; under safe harbor, however, if schools as a whole or a specific subgroup does not reach the set requirement, they are still protected from sanctions as long as they can reduce the number of students scoring below proficient by 10 percent.

Field did just that. State standards for proficiency were set at 42.9 percent of all students in communication arts and 35.8 percent of students in mathematics for this year. Those percentages were up from 34.7 and 26.6 percent last year. Field still fell short of the overall targets, but made enough progress to avoid further sanctions.

Safe harbor “is a big piece of it, because that is what allowed us to meet” Adequate Yearly Progress, Garman said. “And because we are making improvements, they’re not penalizing us continuously because we are headed in the right direction.”

One change made at Field starting last fall was the implementation of single-sex classrooms in fifth grade. This year, single-sex classrooms will expand to fourth graders as well.

“I think it’s a small piece of the larger pie,” Garman said. “We have a lot of things we have implemented that have positively impacted what we do here.”

The strong professional learning community and a deep commitment to helping kids also contributed to the school’s achievement, Garman said.

Jeff Krall, a parent of a Field student, said he has been pleased with the improvements made, especially considering the large number of students moving in and out of the school throughout the year.

“It’s refreshing when scores do improve and show some progress when other variables may be involved,” Krall said.

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