Kings Beach Elementary improves test scores | SierraSun.com

Kings Beach Elementary improves test scores

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunKeenan Robinson, 6, and Eduardo Yanez, 6, walk down the hall together at Kings Beach Elementary School. After three years of below-standard test scores, students at the school have lifted themselves into a probationary period.

After three years of below-standard test scores, students at Kings Beach Elementary School have lifted themselves into a probationary period.

But even with the improvement, students must better test scores next year.

Safe harbor is the term given to schools by the No Child Left Behind Act, where at least 10 percent of students who once tested below federally-mandated standards improved scores. The school must also have a 95-percent participation rate in the testing and scores must reflect a growth from the previous year. Testing begins in second grade.

Kings Beach Elementary improved in large part because over the last three years the school’s staff started improvement strategies that seem to have taken hold, said Principal Eileen Fahrner. She said blocking instruction and staff collaboration time were the two most significant programs instituted to improve test scores. Teaching the same subjects at the same time throughout the school is called blocking instruction, Fahrner said.

Additionally, Fahrner said that during weekly staff collaboration meetings, teachers ask each other three questions: What do we want them to learn, how do they learn it, and what do we do if they do not learn it?

Fahrner said along with these programs other areas of teacher focus are on tutoring students before and after school, and staff training on state-approved textbooks.

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The school also implemented Project Glad; a two-day teacher summer-summit when educators meet with teacher trainers to hone in-class strategies.

In addition, staff is now factoring the school’s year-old nutrition policy of what students are allowed to eat into their educational plans.

“The food is healthy and recess comes before lunch,” said Fahrner explaining that kids come in hungrier. “Last year [before the program] we had lots of waste.”

Also, she said, kids are more focused on learning when they eat after their play break.

With all the improvements, Fahrner said the students still have a challenge ahead of them because they must test over 10 percent higher than they did last year.

“Our staff feels like we can do it,” Fahrner said.