Winthrop Principals Join Forces to Raise Students’ State Test Scores

By Kate Anslinger

Change is always scary. With the recent transitional phase of the school district due to the new high school/middle school, there have been several adjustments to other local schools.

Gorman Fort Banks Principal Ilene Pearson and Arthur T. Cummings Principal Ryan Heraty who have truly proved that collegial collaboration is the key to success undertook the changes to the two elementary schools.

The two principals have worked together to determine what needs to be done to better the schools and provide an easier transition for students from kindergarten to fifth grade.

“Mr. Heraty and I are committed to making sure we communicate and collaborate,” said Principal Ilene Pearson, who boasted about several recent improvements at the Gorman Fort Banks School.

At the Gorman Fort Banks School English Language Arts (ELA) performance that fell under the advanced/proficient category, escalated from 55 percent of students in 2014, up to 73 percent of students in 2016. The same upward path occurred for math, as scores reflected a rise from 65 percent of advanced/proficient in 2014, to 80 percent in 2016.

At the Cummings School the ELA score for fourth grade with advanced proficiency was three percent in 2015 and up to 3.18 percent in 2016. In math the advanced proficient score doubled from 11 percent in 2015 to 21.15 percent in 2016. At the fifth grade level advanced proficient scores went from 17 percent in 2015 to 19 percent in 2016.  The advanced proficient score in fifth grade math more than doubled from 17 percent in 2015 to 30 percent in 2016.

Those same rising scores were evident at the Arthur T. Cummings School, as the majority of students fell under the advanced/proficient category in both ELA and Math, showing significant increases from previous years. The data is proof that the school’s performance levels have been elevated, especially in overall achievement where there was a 31st to 61st percentile increase. While the students and teachers had to adapt to the new PARCC testing, they persevered and the focus of testing transitioned from state assessment to student learning. This resulted in the students making significant gains in in both ELA and Math.

Each school in the state falls under a different category, level one being the highest performing and level five resulting in a state receivership. Currently, the Arthur T. Cummings School is listed as a Level Two school. However, due to the rising scores, there is a good chance that they will reach Level One status in the near future.

“Student growth and achievement is measured by many factors but our assessment results indicate students are making tremendous academic gains in math and reading. These gains can be directly attributed to hardworking, talented teachers, the integration of technology, and a focus on designing programs and instruction that meet the needs of all learners,” said Principal Heraty. “I believe our gains are also a product of our school and district-wide commitment to educating the whole child and offering programs such as intramural sports, 21st Century After-School, Kindness Club, drama, and band that help students make a strong connection with school and their peers in a positive way. When students feel safe and excited about school, learning skyrockets.”

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