TEACHERS AND STAFF HELP ALL STUDENTS SUCCEED
A recent editorial from the Idaho Mt. Express recognized the proficiency gap among our students in Blaine County. The District has been tracking this issue carefully for several years and has succeeded in narrowing part of the gap; we agree with the Mt. Express editorial that it is imperative and urgent that we close the proficiency gap even further. The time is now. We have two areas of focus: closing the gap while improving outcomes for all students and providing equitable resources while balancing the budget.
An analysis of research conducted over a 35-year period demonstrates that schools that are highly effective produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of student backgrounds (Marzano, What Works in Schools: Translating Research Into Action, 2003). The good news is that we know we can do this. Current successes include:
- We have increased the Hispanic graduation rate from 79.6% to 90.6% in two years.
- We have increased the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes and Dual Credit. 89% of the 2017 graduating class took at least one Advanced Placement class before graduating.
- Our early reading scores show improved literacy in grades K-2 and we are optimistic about grades 3-5.
- We have incredibly talented and highly qualified staff who are committed to the success of every student.
We also recognize that we have significant work to do in closing the achievement gap in literacy and mathematics. These are the concrete steps we are taking to address the general proficiency gap:
- We have hired additional literacy and math coaches to focus on supporting teachers in areas of greatest need.
- We have moved to a model of co-teaching that allows students learning English to stay in core content classes and access the entire curriculum while also improving their language skills.
- The budget has been entirely revamped in order to ensure equitable resources across the district. It has led to some difficult choices, but it has also helped us see what equity looks like financially, academically, and socially.
Our community has high expectations for our schools and we share those expectations. Our schools cannot do this work alone. We need every member of our community to not only hold us accountable but to also tell our staff that we believe they are capable of helping every student succeed. The growing recognition across our community of the need to ensure that all students, at a minimum, are proficient in literacy and mathematics provides energy for our work. By working together, we can ensure that every student fulfills their greatest potential. We encourage the public to help us with this goal. Thank you.
GwenCarol Holmes, Ed.D.