By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series looking at White Pine County School’s performance in the Nevada School Performance Framework. Part one will look at David E. Norman and McGill Elementary Schools and White Pine Middle School. Part two will look at White Pine High School and Lund Elementary School.
White Pine County schools received a variety of grades under the Nevada School Performance Framework. McGill Elementary School received one star out of a possible five stars, David E. Norman, Lund and Baker Elementary Schools received two stars, White Pine Middle School received four stars and White Pine High School received three stars. Schools earn points in various categories such as testing at grade level in math and reading/writing, student growth, attendance and more. Schools can receive a possible 100 points.
“It has a lot of nuances to it,” White Pine County School District Superintendent Bob Dolezal said. “…But it gives us some insight to where the schools are at.”
McGill and David E. Norman Elementary Schools
McGill Elementary School earned the lowest grade of any school in the district, with a one-star rating. But for new principal Robert Bischoff, the school appears already to be on a path to raise its rating.
“Looking at the data, the biggest problem we had is in the achievement gap,” Bischoff said. “That gap is pretty significant. Also, overall proficiency needs improvement. It’s the fourth and fifth grade tests that count using the third grade test as a baseline to track students and see how they grow and we just have not been good in the number of kids passing and the kids who passed in the third grade, didn’t grow as much as we would like in fourth or fifth grades.”
David E. Norman received a two-star rating, though was close to a three-star rating, Principal Rebecca Murdock said. Among the areas identified as areas for improvement included looking at two pockets of students who struggled in math and reading.
“We’ve targeted and started looking at and digging into the why and deciding what we need to do there,” Murdock said. “We’re focusing on writing across the curriculum and we’ve implemented a reading intervention program that happens daily so students have a half-hour to work on the most basic level of the standard or enhancement and enrichment of the standard.”
With David E. Norman and McGill Elementary Schools working together, the intervention and remediation programs are aimed at keeping students who are falling behind from further falling behind and to help students who have an understanding to enrich their education.
“We have professional development about writing across the different content areas and daily interventions in the classroom,” Bischoff said. “We work on the skills they need to practice and, working with the higher performing students who get it, push them a little further and daily remediation for the kids who need a little help.”
For writing across the curriculum, Murdock and Bischoff said that isn’t simply keeping daily journals.
“What does it look like to write in math and science and to be able to talk about what we’re learning,” Murdock said.
One area the schools are looking to better is the knowledge and skills new kindergartners enter school with.
“Our kindergarten students come with such a wide range of skills,” Dolezal said. “…We need to do a better job communicating to parents whose children didn’t attend a preschool for whatever reason and let them know what we expect our kindergarten students to know coming in.”
At both schools, there will also be increased targeted, focused help to meet the needs of the students in the sub-groups to help with the achievement gap, Murdock said. Both schools are also placing an emphasis on parental help and teaching parents what they can do to help students both in and out of the classroom while also looking for ways to reward students for the progress they make during the year, whether it’s Tiger Tuesdays for McGill, where an awards assembly is held for things like perfect attendance or others, both schools are working to make sure students leave with a good base of knowledge.
“Elementary is the foundation for everything that is happening in the middle school and high school,” Murdock said. “If we don’t give them the basic skills, it hinders that advanced learning that kids need to have.”
White Pine Middle School
WPMS is the only school in the school district to see its rating increase (the school received a three –star rating in the last report) and received the highest rating in the district, though the school still sees room for improvement.
“Elements that the middle school deals with is closing the achievement gap, growth, which is how much did students grow in comparison to their cohort groups, attendance and CRT scores,” principal Sharyl Allen said. “We did really well in growth, that was a huge factor from last year to this year. Our CRT scores, with some work there would put the middle school at a five-star level if all other things held constant.”
The achievement gap compares students in sub-groups, including English Language Learners, special education students, minority groups, etc., and those of majority group students in that district is also an area that the school is looking to improve in.
“Our teachers have been heavy at work in analysis and desegregation, which is taking the test scores and pulling them apart and literally going student by student to see where they were, where they are and what we need to do to surround and support them so they can grow,” Allen said.