by Phillip Manning ~ October 23rd, 2013
As part of the new school rating system unveiled by the state last month, schools that perform well are classified as “Reward Schools.” There are two categories of reward schools. Talkeetna Elementary was recognized with thirty-six other schools as a “High Progress” campus. For a school to fall into the High Progress category, they must receive high marks for improvement in academic proficiency, including students who are Alaska Natives, economically disadvantaged, learning English as a second language, or who have a learning disability.
Talkeetna Elementary Principal Carol Wadman says that good teachers and parental involvement play a major role in the school’s academic success.
“It goes back to our teachers and the fact that they’re teaching reading, writing, math, language the best they can do, given the curriculum at hand, and doing a good job of it. Our students and parents are helping in that process by getting homework done and checking in with teachers to see how their child is doing.”
Principal Wadman says that the school expects as much as ninety-eight percent participation in the upcoming round of parent-teacher conferences, and that continued parental involvement is key to a child’s education.
While Principal Wadman says that being a High Progress school is something to be proud of, she believes that the biggest obstacle to Talkeetna Elementary being named as a “Highest Performing” school is not academic achievement.
“I see, in the highest performing scores, the third rating to become that is attendance, so that would be what is holding us from being one of the Highest Performing schools.”
Principal Wadman says that, based on last year’s attendance numbers, the average student missed nineteen days of class, which amounts to just under one month of class-time. She says that, with that trend, the average child could miss an entire year’s worth of class by the time they are out of junior high. She believes that, to reach the Highest Performing grade, that number would have to drop to an average of twelve days or fewer per student.