Grant, Washington and Winship schools earn state recognition for boosting student achievement

EUREKA— An ongoing and coordinated effort to boost student achievement at three Eureka schools has been recognized as a distinguished accomplishment by the California Department of Education (CDE).

EUREKA— An ongoing and coordinated effort to boost student achievement at three Eureka schools has been recognized as a distinguished accomplishment by the California Department of Education (CDE).

Grant Elementary School, Washington Elementary School and Winship Middle School have been awarded CDE's 2006-07 Title 1 Academic Achievement Award. Representatives from these schools will attend the 2007 California Title 1 Conference in Costa Mesa on April 16 to receive the awards.

Kim Cobine, former principal of Winship Middle School and current assistant superintendent of Humboldt County Schools, described the school's accomplishment as an eight-year process. "It was a combination of analyzing testing data each year and developing various school-wide programs that really made the difference," noted Cobine. "Our decisions were all focused on improving student learning."

Winship offers school-wide programs in reading, writing, library research, mathematics and classroom management for teachers.

Test data was scrutinized to find "key patterns within the subgroups and address areas of concern," said Cobine. Student subgroups consist of English language learners, special education, socioeconomic and ethnicity.

In addition, special education students and their teachers have more involvement in regular education classroom. "Winship has an inclusion model that brings special education teachers and aides into the classrooms where small groups of resource students are clustered," said Cobine. "They receive the same curriculum and instruction as everyone else, but with the teachers and aides in the room, all students are given more attention."

"The added bonus for our special education students was the increase in self esteem and confidence they gained as learners because they weren't being pulled out of the classroom and singled out by other children," said Cobine.

Winship's after school program also receives credit from Cobine. "Students received strong academic support after school. It was an integral part of the success."

Cobine is proud of the entire Winship staff. "It was a lot of hard work on the teachers' part, and actually everyone who works at Winship, because we all had to be a part of the learning. Whether working with students in a support class, after school program or even on the playground to enforce our school-wide behavior plan, without their dedication to the concept that we can do better and all children can learn, I don't think we would have achieved at the level we did."

The Grant school staff recognized the importance of meeting the changing needs of their students after a shift in demographics brought more English language learners to the school. Lee Ann Lanning, former principal of Grant Elementary School and current principal of Washington School, convened a site leadership team of teachers which met regularly to address the changing academic and social needs of students.

"Math is an area Grant students have done well in," remarked Lanning, "so teachers identified literacy as the primary academic need along with social, emotional and behavioral issues."

Grant's leadership team determined that the literacy needs of their students were related to second language issues as well as possible learning issues.

To address students' social, emotional and behavioral needs, a variety of interventions and ongoing trainings were put into place including utilizing the school's psychologist, disseminating parent surveys, offering Healthy Play training for staff members and ongoing training for the school's playground monitors. One of the results is that Grant has experienced a decrease of in-school and out-of-school suspensions.

Lanning arranged for her teachers to participate in targeted training on curriculum evaluation, program planning and developing quality intervention programs. "We decided to revamp our intervention both during the school day and in our after school classes," said Lanning.

Grant School also identified students for language arts intervention classes and English language learner support. "Grant leadership team decided to group English language learners within the grades based on a variety of information, including test results, in order to provide intensive and targeted instruction in language development."

Lanning credits the entire Grant staff for the school's accomplishment. "Grant School has a highly dedicated staff committed to ongoing professional development to supporting student learning."

Paul Gossard, former principal at Washington School and current principal at Winship Middle School, was pleased to find out about the recognition and was quick to praise the entire Washington staff.

"School success does not come by accident," stated Gossard. "This award reflects the dedication, creativity and tenacity of Washington's teachers, intervention teachers and support staff in seeking success for all students."