Consider your neighborhood school

As the period for requesting intra-district transfers (May 13 through June 6) draws near, one feels compelled to ask those form-filling-out folks, have you considered your neighborhood elementary school?

Each of the five Oak Harbor schools offers several programs that make it uniquely great. Once we gave ours, Crescent Harbor Elementary, a chance, we found their Multiage Program whereby third and fourth graders are placed together in the same classes.

All OHSD elementary schools follow the same curriculum and grade-level but there is some leeway in how it is taught. Through close cooperation between teachers at CHE, about 175 students receive 60 minutes a day of reading instruction based on ability and 90 minutes a day of math instruction, 60 at ability level and 30 at grade level. Although ability-based reading exists in all OHSD elementary schools in varying degrees, ability-based math groups do not. And with multiplication and division being taught during these grades, it is a good time for children to be learning them alongside others with similar abilities.

But CHE’s focus on math does not stop there. Up to 35 fourth graders are offered an additional 75 minutes of math instruction on Monday afternoons from October through March, and have been for about four years now. CHE is also tentatively slated to add a math coach to their staff for the 2008-2009 school year.

The presence of a math coach has been followed by a rise in math WASL scores at all of the OHSD elementary schools who have had one. Additionally, CHE is the pilot school for the five-county Northwest ESD 189 region’s Response to Intervention program, whereby students in grades K-2 performing significantly below level in reading receive up to two hours a day of one-on-one or small group reading instruction daily. This is independent of instruction available for qualified elementary school students performing just below level in math, reading and writing through LAP or Title I funding.

The goal of the Response to Intervention program is to have all students performing at-level by the time they finish second grade. And reading proficiency is important in enabling math proficiency. With only one year of WASL scores to go on (the 90 minutes of math is only in its second year), the jury is still out on how much difference it will make in the long run. But CHE’s focus on frequent assessments and ability-based learning show that its principal, educators and support staff take math achievement, a huge predictor of future academic success, seriously and are willing to go the extra mile in trying to produce great math thinkers. There are some fantastic programs, teachers, classified staff members and more to be had at each and every one of the five elementary schools. Your neighborhood school is no exception.

Here’s hoping that you will consider sending your child to your neighborhood school (saving money in transportation costs in the meantime) and then volunteering your time to make it, or whatever school you choose, even better.

JuLee Rudolf

lives in Oak Harbor.

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