On Thursday at an awards ceremony in Lacey, Maltby Elementary and Monroe High School both received 2013 Washington Achievement Awards determined by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Maltby Elementary is being recognized for Special Recognition in Math Growth, which means it is in the top 5 percent based on median growth percentiles in math for the three most recent years.
Principal Sonja Hoeft credited the district’s adoption of a new math program, Math Expressions, three years ago with a portion of Maltby’s success.
“We’ve raised the rigor of our instruction and we’re asking kids to produce at a higher level,” she said.
Hoeft also believes that new tools to better help teachers assess each student’s current knowledge level and create strategies to get them where they need to be has been beneficial.
“Talking about where students are going next in their learning is really important,” she said. “It’s not one size fits all anymore.”
Hoeft wanted to emphasize that the school’s award, while being based on the state assessment data for grades 3-5, genuinely is a team effort.
“My kindergarten, first and second grade teachers should be lauded just as much for the groundwork that they laid,” she said. “It takes the whole staff to get that child where they need to be.”
Marie Relph, a third grade teacher at Maltby, also credited the focus on the school’s use of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), which emphasize a team approach to teaching using assessment results to improve instruction.
“It gives us a better idea of who is struggling, and who needs a little more help,” she said.
When some of the students are having trouble with a math concept, she takes them aside and works with them.
“Working for half an hour in a small group is really effective, especially if you can direct it specifically to what the students need,” said Relph.
John Lombardi, principal at Monroe High School, was equally proud of MHS’s Achievement Award for High Progress, which recognizes the top 10 percent of schools in the state making the most performance progress over three years.
“There’s been a big shift over the last eight to 10 years that has really led us to this point,” he said. “Staff see every kid in our school as their responsibility not just those in their classes.”
MHS has also been using PLCs as a framework for student success. The high school developed a team to investigate new ways to advance student achievement.
“Our math department especially has really embraced it, and seen incredible improvement,” said Lombardi.
Last year Monroe High School had approximately 120 freshmen take Math EOC 1 and every single one of them passed.
“That used to be rare but now it’s what we expect,” the principal said.
Lombardi added that the community has really responded to the higher expectations at the high school.
“Now parents are holding their kids to those standards,” he added. “I couldn’t be more excited about the work we’re doing.”