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Lewis school turns around test scores

by Nora Edinger

REGIONAL EDITOR

WESTON -- A Lewis County School labeled "seriously impaired" by the state Board of Education has had a remarkable turnaround, according to Gabe Devono, assistant superintendent.

"Roanoke will probably be one of the best schools in the county," Devono said of Roanoke Elementary School's preliminary results from the April 10 SAT-9 standardized test.

While final results will not be available until January 2001, Devono said initial, unpublishable results indicate the school has not only met the state standards it had failed to reach for the last three years, but it is now a leader among the Lewis County pack.

Roanoke, a rural school of 173 pre-kindergarten through fourth-graders, caught state school board attention after a series of test averages that did not meet state standards, said Principal Dan Hoover.

To avoid state intervention, schools must have 50 percent of third- and fourth-graders scoring above the 50th percentile, meaning half of students must rank higher than the average test taker of the same age.

Additionally, fewer than 15 percent of students may score below the 26th percentile.

"It's the third year that gets you," said Hoover, explaining how the school wound up labeled "seriously impaired" after it failed to meet the 50 percent/50th percentile re-quirement three years in a row.

With 2000 scores dramatically improved, Hoover credits the quick turnaround to a cooperative effort that involved a number of things:

n parent volunteers;

n a reading promotion;

n after-school tutoring;

n exposing students to questions worded in the SAT-9 format;

n and a consultant who helped teachers and administration revamp their curriculum.

The latter step is what both Hoover and Devono said was integral to the speedy change.

"She helped us focus on the IGOs (instructional goals and objectives) and to develop a plan for rotating through all of the IGOs using the SAT-9 testing format," Hoover said of private consultant Carolyn Meadows.

State IGOs mandate what skills students must master at each grade level, Hoover said. The SAT-9 test closely matches those goals, he added.

Before Meadows' assistance, Roanoke teachers had a textbook-based curriculum that covered good content, but was not necessarily in line with the IGOs or the test that measured their mastery, Hoover said.

"As I told my staff, what we have done is simply to align the curriculum with the IGOs," as opposed to teaching just for a test, Hoover said.

"What we don't want to do is teach a great unit on the Civil War and give the students a test on World War II."

Roanoke will remain on the "seriously impaired" list until it meets state standards for two years in a row, Hoover added.

For the 1999-2000 school year, Devono said, according to the preliminary figures all Lewis County schools have met and exceeded state requirements.

Regional editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1403.

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