Making the grade

2010-07-20T00:00:00Z Making the gradeby SEPP JANNOTTA - Staff Reporter Ravalli Republic
July 20, 2010 12:00 am  • 

FLORENCE - Since the threat of being labeled a "failing school" came along with the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, schools have taken steps to get students to make the grade.

One method is teaching to the test - that often-maligned instructional mode of bearing down on what standardized tests will ask.

At Florence-Carlton School District, where the superintendent said preliminary numbers show its schools made the so-called adequate yearly progress benchmarks set by the state, students on the cusp are being offered another option for bringing up their scores - drilling in math with a tutor during the summer.

Florence-Carlton Superintendent John McGee said the school takes pains to assess how individual students are faring, so it only makes sense to make use of the summer to bolster students' scores.

"We're just trying to do the things that are necessary to assist the students that need a little help," McGee said. "Plus, we don't want the summer break to be an issue of regression for these kids. We want them to stay on track and continue their progression."

After seeing some rebound on the district's scores in the math arena, McGee said the idea was to keep pressing forward, knowing that the state will continue to raise the bar by increasing the required percentage of students who make the testing grade.

So, this spring, McGee asked first-year middle school math and science teacher Marlyce Anderson if she would take on the math tutoring program. Word was then spread to parents that help would be available in the form of tutoring.

The schools also sent packets to parents with summer study kits designed to keep students from regressing, McGee said.

"The sad thing is a lot of them don't even touch it," he said. "But some parents are concerned and try to help get some work in over the summer."

McGee said a number of parents were obviously motivated enough to take the school up on in-school summer tutoring.

The five-day-a-week program, which began last week and will run into early August, puts small groups of no more than 12 into each session with Anderson.

For an hour, she runs them through a review of the basics and together they work on some problems. There are also more than a few quizzes, she said.

"Any review is good review," Anderson added. "And that's true for anybody."

Anderson, who so far has averaged about 30 kids per day, said the parents' motivation seems to be rubbing off on the kids.

The first proof of that drive appears at 8:30 a.m. for her first session. The group - a mix of fourth and fifth graders - shows up in a frenzy, Anderson said, competing with each other to see who can get there first.

"The students are really with it," Anderson said. "I think they really are here to learn. They want to do better and they want to learn, not just because an adult is pushing them to succeed, but because they want show they can do better."

Anderson said that drive from the students is reinforced because the parents are bought into the idea of doing well on the tests.

"It is really important that they have that support from their parents," she said.

McGee agreed.

"At the end of the day the key is that you have strong parent involvement and interest at home in addition to having strong teachers like Marlyce," McGee said.

Reporter Sepp Jannotta can be reached at 363-3300 or


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(1) Comments

  1. abelincolnparty
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    abelincolnparty - July 20, 2010 12:50 am
    Real education reform would be to place a video for each and every high school and college course taught at our state tax payer institutions on a public available database. The taxpayers already pay the salary of the instructors, so text material for those classes should be written by some of those instructors and the copywrite owned by the taxpayer.

    Anytime an individual decides they want to improve themself, they should be able to without paying through the nose or getting turned down for admission because of past grades, criminal history or poverty.

    The public libraries could give summary exams, and issue certificates of achievement, national exams at reasonable cost should be available in specialty areas.

    Abe Lincoln taught himself law, and became one of the best lawyers in the United States, now a days they would not let him take the bar exam unless he got neck deep in debt, I say that is wrong. Its not a free market economy if your not free to improve yourself without paying tribute to the trolls under the bridge.

    Its not uncommon for universities to erase their taped distance classes two weeks after their made, claiming they own the copywrite and people of the state can't use it. The taxpayers paid for it, its theirs.

    We should not allow this continued waste of human potential, its oppressive. Over 90% of college classes including medical topics could be learned this way. Our system as it is now is causing needless overpopulation of dogs and cats because getting into vet schools is harder than getting into medical school, there are only about 26 vet schools in the USA.
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