The Edmond Sun

February 1, 2014

Sunset, Ida Freeman seek to improve their grades

After A-F results, 2 schools receiving more federal aid

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Edmond administrators are working closely with two elementary schools given C’s on the A-F grading scale from the Oklahoma State Education Department.

Edmond’s Ida Freeman and Sunset elementary schools are school-wide Title I programs based on 40 percent of the students qualifying for free and reduced lunches, said Penny Gooch, coordinator of education services.

“Because they qualify for school-wide status we receive federal funds that help us support extra personnel and programs including tutoring,” Gooch said. “The federal funds allow us to do things like hiring instructional coaches and behavioral interventionists.”

Behavioral interventionists are at school sites working with teachers, parents and students as they help students shape and change their behaviors that interrupt their learning.

“At both schools we are also able to supply reading and math coaches that work with the schools’ teachers,” Gooch said. “The coaches’ job is to promote best practices of instruction.

“Because of extra funding we are able to provide a wide variety of materials and programs for these schools. We are able to hire tutors during or after the school day to provide one-on-one help with specific students.”

Because of their classification the schools are also able to help provide targeted professional development, which can provide teachers help in working with the English Language Learner students in the classrooms at Sunset, Gooch added.

These schools also have all of the other programs the rest of the Edmond elementary schools have, but with some additional programming based on their student body’s needs.

“We set aside within our federal monies, money to help those two sites,” Gooch said. “We receive federal money based on our free and reduced lunch count at those sites and then we use the money to provide learning experiences for our students.”

Associate Superintendent of Education Services Tara Fair said the schools have a staff of Title I instructors who go into the classroom based on need as well as site improvement plans.

“We are still investigating site supports at those two sites and getting parent input as to what their greatest needs are specific to their unique populations,” said Ruthie Riggs, executive director of elementary education.

There is new leadership at both Sunset and Ida Freeman this year.

Kartina McDaniel is the principal at Sunset Elementary and Keith Pautler is the Ida Freeman Elementary principal.

“Two of our schools dropped in scores this year,” Fair said. “Northern Hills Elementary dropped from an A to an A-, and Orvis Risner Elementary dropped from a B to a B-. Will Rogers stayed the same, as did Charles Haskell Elementary, with both schools making a B.”

The other elementary schools raised their grades including Clegern, Cross Timbers and Russell Dougherty elementary schools raising their grades from an A to an A+. Centennial and Westfield elementary schools raised their grades from a B to an A+, Chisholm Elementary raised its grade from a B to an A and Angie Debo, John Ross and Washington Irving elementary schools raised their grades from a B to an A-.

Frontier Elementary School was not added to this list since it did not open until August of this year.

“Sequoyah Middle School remained the same earning an A both years, and Cimarron, Summit and Central middle schools remained the same making B’s both years,” Fair said.

Cheyenne Middle School raised its grade from an A to an A+.

All three high schools, Edmond Memorial, North and Santa Fe raised their grades from an A to an A+.

The Edmond Public School District’s overall grade dropped from an A to an A-.

Report cards that grade Oklahoma public schools and school districts on a scale of A-F were certified by the state Board of Education and made public by the state Department of Education on Nov. 6. The report cards are intended to measure how well schools are teaching their students, but they’ve been a lightning rod for criticism by educators.

In 2011 the Oklahoma Legislature adopted the A-F School Grading System to make school performance clear in a transparent manner easily communicated to the public. The report cards also give schools a tool to encourage more parental and community involvement, education department officials said.

A Stanford study shows that schools with higher levels of parent and community involvement have a better chance of succeeding.