News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 19, 2014

Sarah Scott nets nearly $1M federal grant for improvement

TERRE HAUTE — Sarah Scott Middle School will benefit from a $948,829 federal school improvement grant, the state Department of Education announced Thursday.

The three-year grant will focus on improving student performance in reading, writing and math through the intervention of a reading coach, two writing coaches and a math coach.

Those coaches will work alongside teachers in the classroom, said Karen Goeller, VCSC deputy superintendent.

“We’re making an investment in people,” she said. “We’re excited to have this much of a comprehensive focus in one building in those three subjects.”

The grant also calls for a “data engagement coach” who will use frequent and informal assessments of student strengths and needs to assist with instructional improvement.

Each year, the district must show it is making progress and meeting targets.

The state had 32 applications and seven were chosen, including Sarah Scott. The grants total $8.5 million.

Sarah Scott was eligible because it is a Title 1 school and it had a new principal, Bruce Lautenschlager, who just completed his first year there.

With the grant, “We are putting resources directly into the classroom where resources are needed most,” she said. Coaches will work with teachers in the classroom to find best practices that meet the needs of students.

The school received an “F” grade for 2013 in the state’s category placement system and is considered a “priority school,” which means it is being monitored by the state for progress.  Category placement, part of Indiana Public Law 221, is based primarily on student performance on ISTEP-Plus, or the percentage of students passing the test.

A school’s score can be raised or lowered based on student academic growth on ISTEP. The school’s ISTEP performance has been adequate, but “low growth is the problem” in both language arts and math, Goeller stated late last year.

During a public hearing conducted in January, Goeller and Lautenschlager pointed  out that 85 percent of Sarah Scott students are on free/reduced-cost lunch and more than 30 percent are special-needs students.

Goeller noted that part of the federal grant will be used for before- and after-school extended day tutoring sessions to benefit students.

The Vigo County School Board will be asked to approve the grant Monday.

Six other schools also received grants. School improvement grants are awarded to schools that demonstrate a great need for these funds, as well as a commitment to use these funds to raise achievement levels in low-performing schools.

Other recipients are:

• Stonybrook Middle School, MSD Warren Township: $1,850,000.

• Fairview Elementary, Monroe County: $619,258.

• Highland Park Elementary, Monroe County: $847,122.

• Lake Ridge Middle School, Lake Ridge School Corp.: $738,388.

• Chamberlain Elementary, Goshen: $1,750,000.

• McCulloch Middle School, Marion: $1,750,000.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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