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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cook Literacy Model improves in discipline, literacy, science; math needs work | Winston-Salem Journal

"After a year as a turnaround school, Cook Literacy Model School has displayed great strides in many areas but still has work to do" summarizes

The school has shown marked improvements in discipline, parent involvement, reading and science, but dropped in math scores. Overall, the school met growth for the 2016-17 year, according to state testing data. It didn’t the previous year.

Beverly Emory, superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, said she was pleased with how Cook Literacy Model did in its first year as a turnaround school.

“The gains at Cook were significant, and not all of the measures are the state accountability model,” she said. “The school has held themselves to an aggressive set of indicators.”

Paula Wilkins, principal, said the school has worked to improve student achievement by keeping its focus.

“Last year, it was about getting things started,” she said. “This year, we’re continuing to focus on building relationships and emotional needs.”

Previously Cook Elementary, the school became Cook Literacy Model in fall 2016 after it was identified by the federal government as a priority school that needed to change after struggling for years with low performance. It essentially got a new staff, including Wilkins. Wilkins, who is from the area, said she applied for the position in part because she wanted to reclaim her community.

“I grew up in this area and have an obligation to help,” she said. “I need to be a champion for the children. I’m still tested and reminded of what’s important. You have to see the big picture and go back to children and families.”

The school improved its overall grade level proficiency by nearly four percentage points, from 11.6 percent in 2015-16 to 15.3 percent in 2016-17, according to data from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. The biggest gain was in fifth grade science proficiency, which more than doubled in a year, from 15.4 percent to 36.4 percent in 2016-17.

Wilkins said the school focused on teaching the core subject — in every grade.

“Science shouldn’t be a focus only in fifth grade,” she said. “It should have the same priority in kindergarten and third grade, so there are no holes (in learning).”

Students have been going on more field trips to give them experiences to cement their learning. The school also has STEM nights, with students getting to take home science experiment kits to further their education.

In math, however, scores dropped significantly in some grades. Third grade dropped from 25 percent proficiency in 2015-16 to about 7 percent the next year. In fifth-grade math, students had 10 percent proficiency in 2015-16. They tested at less than five percent in 2016-17.

“With math, we tried to do too much too fast,” Wilkins said.

The school implemented a new, evidence-based math curriculum that is different from the rest of the district, which is designed for students with gaps in foundational knowledge. Wilkins admits that during the previous school year, the school relied too heavily on the program alone to teach the math standards to the students. She isn’t making that mistake this year.
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Source: Winston-Salem Journal

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