Click here for more articles
Ignacio schools try to improve retention, attendance
8/26/2013 By: Carole McWilliams
Natives attending school at higher rates than Anglos, superintendent says
By Carole McWilliams
Times senior staff writer
As school starts, a few kids will return to the same grade they were in last school year.
Ignacio school directors debated the effectiveness of this at their Aug. 8 meeting as part of creating a policy on retention.
“You don’t have a board policy on retention, so we need to create one,” administrative secretary Janet Reinhardt said. She thought it had to be done by the end of this year.
Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto said it’s dictated by the READ Act, passed by the state legislature a couple years ago, aimed at making sure kids can read at grade level before they leave third grade.
Director Troy Webb objected that one of the draft policies “doesn’t read like a policy. It reads like a theory. A mission statement isn’t a policy.”
Director Toby Roderick added, “Yes, we agree everybody needs to learn to read. Who doesn’t?”
Webb said retention is “an unacceptable approach for a student who is struggling. When a kid gets retained in elementary, the high school does everything they can to graduate them by 18. It’s a bad practice. … It ignores all the evidence of how ethnic minorities are retained at a higher level…”
A lot of those kids drop out, Webb asserted.
Elementary School Principal Karl Herr commented, “If a kid isn’t reading at grade level by third grade, they are really struggling. I can count on a couple fingers the cases of kids who were retained that worked.”
Board members tabled three draft policies for possible consideration at their Sept. 12 board meeting.
“But what is the solution” if kids don’t have to repeat a grade, Webb asked. “We are there. We’re supposed to be doing mastery instruction this year.”
Webb suggested replacing the word “retention” with “intervention.”
Fuschetto told the Times that mastery instruction means kids don’t move on to the next level of any subject until they master the lower level. “If a kid can’t add and subtract, why start teaching him multiplication?”
That was implemented in math two years ago and in language arts this past year, he said. “This year is everything else.”
He explained, “The way we are going, there won’t be retention. (Students) will move at their own speed. As we evolve, that retention policy will probably go out the window.”
Board members also waded through policies dealing with attendance – what to do about kids with chronically poor attendance and how to motivate better attendance.
“It’s hard for a board to impact attendance except to authorize the principal to do something,” Webb said. “If we had it figured out, we could sell it.”
Fuschetto said, “This year especially, a social worker is starting to make a difference. Picking up kids and bringing them in. This is his first year.”
The social worker is a full-time district employee, Fuschetto told the Times. That’s part of the current attendance policy, he said. “It’s starting to work. We’d like to give it another year.”
The policy includes sending letters to parents of kids with bad attendance, having the social worker work with the kids, and an attendance team at each school to work with kids. “It’s more individualized instead of a blank policy for everybody,” Fuschetto said.
“If it’s a tribal kid, we would take them to a tribal (attendance) team. That’s the last step before referral to Tribal Court,” he said.
Board president Ed McCaw commented, “We run into roadblocks every turn we take. This one with the Tribal Court is the only headway we’ve made.”
Roderick asked, “What policies can get families to value education and get their kids to school?”
McCaw lamented, “The people it affects, they don’t care. It seems like every step we take, we run into a block. … We’ve had it to where the case worker took it to the DA and the DA said no.”
Fuschetto said, “We had one situation where every month Karl (Herr) had to go to court regarding one kid.”
Webb commented, “There needs to be something that drives parents to frustration so they handle it. Cause parents to have to bring the kid on Saturday or after school. That’s where your leverage is.”
McCaw countered, “If I’m not willing to get the kid to school, I’m not going to give up a weekend.”
Fuschetto said, “We directed the social worker to focus on the younger kids to change their habits. When we look at Native American attendance, it was higher than Anglo (attendance) this year (2012-13).”
Classes in Ignacio will start the day after Labor Day. Grades K-3 will continue in the old elementary school downtown and grades 4-5 will be at the old junior high until the new elementary school is ready, hopefully in January, Fuschetto said.
Grades 6-8 will be at the new middle school on CR 320. Grades 9-12 will be at the high school as usual.
Fuschetto reported that design work is progressing for renovations and additions at the high school. “Our goal is to have the plan 90 to 95 percent ready, to go to bid in January…” Asbestos abatement will be needed, and that could cost $200,000 to $250,000, he said.
The district will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting and open house for the new middle school on Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m.
3/9/2014 Regional champs!!! State tourney starts Thursday
3/2/2014 IHS boys win first round of regionals
2/28/2014 IHS teams, BHS girls head into district tournaments this weekend
2/27/2014 Snow and rain on way tonight, through weekend
2/26/2014 BHS girls sneak into IML tourney semis
First Page | Previous Page | Next Page | Last Page
1/31/2014 Garcia scores 27 against Ridgway
1/24/2014 Wolverines persevere at home past Panthers
1/17/2014 BHS boys aim for 100 at Dolores
more sports ...