Education

Sep 27, 2011 6:05 PM by David Ortiviz

School district focuses on academic improvement

It's a major wake up call for Pueblo City Schools. The district has to close the achievement gap over the next few years or it could possibly be shut down. About half the district's schools are rated at low performance levels. Seven of them and the district as a whole are under increasing pressure to raise grades and test scores.

In August, Pueblo City Schools learned it would likely be placed on turnaround status by the Colorado Department of Education. If the district doesn't improve academic achievement within five years the state could restructure or even close the district. "That was our wake up call. Although the wake up call really started last year and if you look at previous to that the data began to indicate that we needed to address issues with achievement," says Dr. Maggie Lopez, superintendent for Pueblo City Schools.

"What has to happen now is really a call to action," said Dr. Lopez.

The district has already implemented a new strategy in classrooms. It's called "Every child. Every classroom. Everyday." Teachers now focus on clear and specific learning goals each day, which are written on poster boards at the front of each classroom. "How is the student going to show the teacher they've learned the material, everyday, every classroom," said Dr. Brenda Krage, Assistant Superintendent for Learning Services at Pueblo City Schools.

Last year's data shows students at all grade levels struggle with math more than any other subject, but that's just scratching the surface. Dr. Lopez plans to meet with every principal and talk about each school's problems. "And then asking principals to come back in 45 days and show me the results, what do you see in terms of improvement," said Dr. Lopez.

Pueblo City Schools says the problem isn't with its instructors. "Our teachers have the ability to do what we need them to do," said Dr. Krage. "We just need to work smarter and we need to work together to do this," she added.

Not every school in the district is performing at a low level. Every school falls under one of four category, the highest being "performance" and the lowest is "turnaround." Here's how each school stands (alphabetical order per category):

Performance Plan
Belmont
Beulah Heights
Carlile
Fountain
Heritage
Highland Park
Morton
Corwin
Goodnight
Pueblo School for the Arts and Sciences

Improvement Plan
Bradford
Centennial
Baca
Minnequa
Somerlid
South
Cesar Chavez Academy
Dolores Huerta

Priority Improvement
Franklin
Central
Columbian
East
Haaff
Hellbeck
South Park
Spann
Sunset Park
Heaston

Turnaround Plan
Freed
Irving
Risley
Pitts
Parkview
Roncalli
Bessemer

 

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