When the state released Academic Performance Index, or API, scores Wednesday, one Concord school stood out from the rest for gaining more than 50 points in one year: Meadow Homes Elementary, which increased 53 points from 648 to 701.
The state’s target for proficiency is 800 on a scale of 200 to 1,000. Although Meadow Homes still has a way to go to achieve this goal, its students and staff are happy to be on an upward swing.
I visited the campus on the first day of school (Tuesday) to meet new Principal Mary-Louise Newling and speak to some staff and students about their improvement on standardized tests administered last spring.
The school began implementing Board Math and Board Language programs last year, which require students to gather close to white boards and read questions aloud together with their teachers. The programs included chants with catchy phrases that helped kids remember the facts they were learning, while having fun.
“I like it because we get to work all together,” said 9-year-old Fatima Cazares, a fifth-grader. “I like math a lot. And I like reading and writing.”
Fifth-grader Edward Billings, 10, said he enjoys learning Algebra.
Although Meadow Homes Elementary feeds into Oak Grove Middle School in Concord, both students expressed an interest in attending Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill next year, which accepts children from throughout the Mt. Diablo school district. Sequoia Middle School scored 873 on its API, compared to 638 at Oak Grove.
As Meadow Homes tries to build on its momentum, it will strive to meet federal goals for student proficiency in English and math, which it failed to achieve in 2011. Newling said she hopes to bring a new writing program to the school and to beef up the library’s collection of culturally revelant literature in both English and Spanish, to better serve the diverse student population.
“We have a lot of programs, resources and materials,” Newling said. “But decisions have to be made about what it is we are going to do. And then we will stick with it, so it’s not just the flavor of the year.”
How do you think schools should decide which programs to use to boost student achievement?