The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released report cards for every school in the state earlier this fall, reporting test scores from the 2018-19 school year. At Windy River Elementary, they were able to celebrate student gains in ELA (English Language Arts) and math.
Students meeting grade level percentage in ELA increased 4% from the 17-18 school year to the 18-19 school year. Achievement went up from level one to level two, and median growth increased from level one to three. “We have room to grow,” said Principal Kyle Aurdahl. The school’s goal is to fully implement the item-writing curriculum in reading by the 2020-21 school year. Aurdahl said they are ahead of schedule right now -- teachers have attended trainings and will continue to collaborate to learn how to organize and use the curriculum. The school is also using iReady online to help supplement instruction for students at their individual levels. “This has helped us see student growth. We discuss this data in our weekly PLCs (Professional Learning Communities), and I am optimistic that our growth and achievement will continue to improve,” Aurdahl said.
The State Report Card also showed that Windy River students meeting grade level percentage in math increased 2% from the 17-18 school to the 18-19 school year. Achievement is up from level one to two, and median growth is also up from level four to five. The school uses ReadyMath and has incorporated small groups. They have also worked with a new instructional coach to organize a partner-math strategy, where students work together and discuss their math thinking. Aurdahl said they re-structured their staff schedules to have Educational Assistants in every classroom during math core time.
In addition to ELA and math, overall individual student progress also improved from “average” to “high” from the 17-18 school to the 18-19 school year.
Windy River has also been emphasizing good attendance, using the Every Day Matters initiative. School administration regularly checks attendance, contact parents when necessary and uses CARE services to help with daily phone calls and home visits. Aurdahl said attendance has been above the state average, but they would like to continue to improve.
Finally, the school continues to work on communication with parents, through monthly Home to School flyers, planners that students get signed at home and a school Site Council that includes a parent from each grade level.
In the end, though, Aurdahl knows that ensuring teachers know they can make a difference is crucial. The staff have started a new book study this year, with the goal to understand teachers’ effect on their students and in their lives. A “kindness tree” in the staff lounge builds support for each other, and weekly meetings include a minute-to-win-it game. “As a staff we continue to grow and grow together. We are still learning about ourselves, each other and where we are going.”