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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2004

Springfield Township: Schools reports aim to help test scores

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It s not strictly academic, but children at Dorr Elementary in Springfield Township are told daily they are in school to learn and responsible for their learning and behavior.

Principal Ken Newbury said it is one of a number of ways the school is trying to impress on the children the importance of learning and doing well.

He said he even uses the message when dealing with youngsters who may have gotten in some trouble: “I ask them who s responsible.”

They may have reasons why something happened, he said, but he wants them to know they might have chosen a better option than the one that landed them in the principal s office.

Mr. Newbury made that point in his school s progress report to the Springfield Local Schools Board of Education recently.

Each school in the district takes turns reporting on procedures at the board s monthly meetings.

Board members also visit the school for an informal meeting and breakfast with the staff prior to the report to the board.

It s all part of a district-wide plan meant to help increase test scores from each school.

The system has used a number of programs to increase those skills.

School buses carry books that are lent to youngsters to read on their trips to and from school, and each elementary building has a “Books for Breakfast, program.

The sessions encourage children to read and gives hints to parents on how to make reading fun.

The success of some of these programs was highlighted last year when Holloway Elementary was cited as one of the top 12 schools in the state for having a particularly effective OhioReads program.

Superintendent Cynthia Beekley said the school board s policy of having individual schools report to them gives members a good idea of the programs and progress of each school.

Mr. Newbury, in his first year at principal, acknowledged that he was somewhat nervous before giving his presentation, but added that it is an asset to have a board as interested and involved as Springfield s.

“They are involved, but not overbearing. They get a grasp of the day-to-day,” work in each school , he said.

Dorr also tries to involve par ents as much as possible in the education process, Mr. Newbury said.

Students have a binder that goes home each day, and teachers include a note at least once a week about each child s progress. In addition to a school newsletter, some classrooms also produce a newsletter for parents.

Mr. Newbury noted that many parents only information about their school is based on the results of state proficiency tests, but at Dorr, the school also posts class test grades in the hallway that can be checked by parents.

He said that in one recent instance, one second-grade class had a noticeably lower score than the other two and it was determined that the teacher was using a different scoring method.

Dr. Beekley said parent involvement is a necessary component in the education of children, but added that blaming parents is too easy, just as it is too easy in blaming schools alone for low-performing students.

It s important to develop and maintain a partnership that helps children learn, she said.



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