Board hears R-5 High School turnaround plan

Improving writing and reading performance and shrinking the school’s dropout rate will be the focus of a state-ordered turnaround plan for R-5 High School.

School Principal Anna Goetz and a handful of R-5 teachers presented the plan to District 51 school board members at a board meeting Tuesday evening.

The school had to come up with a plan because of low Colorado Student Assessment Program test scores, a low graduation rate and an increasing dropout rate.

Because most R-5 students are juniors or seniors and CSAP tests are administered to third- through 10th-graders, just 22 of the school’s 360 students take the test, Goetz said. Still, the plan aims to improve CSAP scores as well as overall academic performance by better tracking students and making sure they get help if their grades slip, helping teachers understand the new plan by way of training, and offering relevant, engaging instruction to students. Accomplishing that may take time.

“We have a great plan. It’s not a plan that can be done in one year,” Goetz said.

Goetz said the school’s graduation rate, which was 35.5 percent for the class of 2009, doesn’t concern her as much as the dropout rate, which was 23.8 percent in 2009. A dropout prevention grant awarded to the school should help with the high rate, she said.

Goetz said the graduation rate is less of a concern because of how it’s measured: the number of students who complete high school with a diploma in four years. That timeline is unrealistic for many students who transfer to R-5, Goetz said

Schools were assigned turnaround, priority improvement, improvement, or performance plans for the first time this year under a new state accountability system, which judges schools based on CSAP achievement, growth and, for high schools, graduation and dropout rates and ACT scores. R-5 was the only District 51 turnaround school, and Rim Rock Elementary and Chatfield Elementary its only priority improvement schools.

Rim Rock Principal Tami Kramer said at Tuesday’s meeting that fourth- and fifth-grade reading and third- through fifth-grade math CSAP scores have declined at the school, something she hopes to remedy by working on reading instruction and better aligning interventions to fit student needs.

Chatfield Principal Jackie Wilson said the school’s plan includes having teachers meet twice instead of once a week to discuss best practices; overhauling the system for helping students struggling with topics, and improving efforts to make sure they get the help they need;  giving students more time to read; and teaching them the ills of bullying so they can focus on learning.

The school board also re-adopted the district’s 2010-11 budget, which had been adjusted to account for a few small expenditures, a decrease in specific ownership revenue, the movement of $5.9 million for capital projects into the general fund at the state’s request for accounting reasons, and $1.4 million in additional revenue thanks to an increase of the equivalent of 19.5 full-time students, compared with district’s original enrollment projection of 200 fewer students.


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