Breaking News from 100 Book Challenge School in Wyoming

September 6, 2017

King of Prussia, Pa.

From the Gillette News Record:

Among those schools making dramatic improvements were Hillcrest Elementary and Rawhide Elementary, both with large at-risk student populations. Both schools moved from not meeting expectations a year ago to partially meeting expectations, Hornby said.

"I’m very proud of that," Hornby said. "Hillcrest and Rawhide teachers wrapped their arms around the evaluations and expectations, and it shows. ... I was so impressed at Hillcrest. That’s a huge improvement."

The school improved a category by exceeding expectations with equity or those at-risk students who can range from disabled or students on individual education plans, to English language learners or those living in families struggling with poverty, said Brad Winter, principal at Hillcrest.

"I’ve had a hard time not telling everybody that would listen," Winter said after the scores were announced. "We have a really hard-working staff and they’ve worked on effective collaboration as teachers and doing the right work." At the same time, "Our kids bought into this," he said. "The kids worked hard, too."

The school emphasized a need for independent reading by students and developed home-school reading contracts so more students were reading more often. At the same time, the school has worked hard on inclusion, or having all students in their general education classrooms and not pulling them out for therapy or other specialized work. "If I understand it, equity is our lowest performing students and the amount of growth they have," Winter said. "We were exceeding expectations in that. And in growth (of all students), we just were one point away from exceeding expectations. "It’s 100 percent the hard work of teachers and their willingness to collaborate, to share kids across a grade level," he said.

Hillcrest had an instructional facilitator who also challenged teachers to change how they thought about collaboration and to drill down on previous tests results and assessments to determine what kids needed. The principle of inclusion also led to improvement, Winter said.

"More inclusion, having all kids in the classroom pretty much the entire day" has led to improvements, he said. "It’s really challenging and the staff has embraced that. ... It seems to be paying off. "It would be nice to meet expectations in achievement. But this is a step in the right direction," Winter added. "We can build on this."

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