Archived Story

Success strategies reviewed

Published 9:52pm Monday, August 9, 2010

By JOHN EBY

Dowagiac Daily News

At a supper work session over lasagna and salad Monday evening, Dowagiac Board of Education met casually at the Wolverine Building with new Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel to review his first month and strategize over improving the district’s test scores.

“We need to be above average in our scores,” said Daniel, who came here from Fort Wayne, Ind.

He shared with the board research and books such as “Closing the Achievement Gap — No Excuses” about an eight-step initiative in Houston, Texas, which turned performance around.

He met author Virginia Davenport at a conference in Traverse City. Another volume Daniel touched on is Accountability for Learning by Doug Reeves.

Daniel said the cap for initiatives should be no more than six, and his preliminary report from talks with some of Dowagiac’s educational leaders indicates there to be more than that.

He discussed changing a letter “grade book” system to one based on standards and some of the initiatives in place, such as Reading Recovery at Kincheloe, which has trained six teachers.

It’s intensive and expensive, but brings student performance in line quickly.

While board members might not think of it as an initiative, Daniel said, summer school is conducted in two- to three-week sessions at most of the buildings at a $90,000 cost they might want to evaluate.

Daniel touched on another initiative aimed at 120 middle schoolers grades 6-8.

Administrators will be moving toward charting the various initiatives in place so everyone knows where and what have been implemented, their cost and their outcomes in affecting student achievement.

Whatever the initiative, he said they should be tied to something such as the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) for accountability.

Implementation of a program is more important than the program itself, of which there are many that work, he indicated.

Before the Aug. 23 meeting Daniel wants to “tie down” all the strategies to decide which ones should be continued.

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