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November 5, 2012

Heading ‘up’ at Columbia in Logansport after devastating grade

Elementary teachers emphasize the three R’s this year to improve academics

LOGANSPORT — After Columbia Elementary School teachers found out their school would be receiving an F from the state Department of Education, one wrote a single word on a hallway whiteboard: “Up.”

It’s the only direction left to go, explained gym teacher Dena Kuhn, who wrote it.

Kuhn, also the parent of a Columbia student, felt “defeat” when she was notified of the school’s grade. Other teachers echoed her, saying they were devastated.

“We work so hard, they work so hard at everything we do,” Kuhn said. And students get good grades, she added, “but they take one test and we’re told we’re bad.”

School administrators are looking to improve their grade next year by raising third-, fourth- and fifth-grade ISTEP scores this coming spring. They’ve already implemented several things this year, said principal Elizabeth Loposser, to help students acquire better English/language arts and math skills.

Math is a known weakness at Columbia, Loposser told teachers at a meeting Thursday night. That’s why this year they’ve begun assigning math facts for students to review each night after school.

Students are also being told to read at least 20 minutes after school each day. They have been assigned reading logs to complete when they do, and the school will start collecting those logs in the next few weeks. The goal this year, Loposser said, is to have students read a million minutes, all together.

The reading and math facts are “our main homework now, and that is not what we were doing before,” Loposser said.

Those changes were implemented early this year, before the school’s F grade was announced. Changes to instruction are meant “not only to improve scores but also to get us and the kids ready for the Common Core standards that are coming,” said Loposser.

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