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Goal for teachers: Gather facts

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At Creekside Elementary School, teachers will spend the rest of this school year figuring out why some students’ math and language arts skills are below grade level and not improving.

Parents, teachers and Principal Mark Heiden want more students whose families qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program to be able to pass the ISTEP exam. For that to happen, Creekside’s teachers need to know more about students who aren’t keeping up with their classmates, Heiden said.

Heiden wants teachers to know more about what challenges or problems students are facing, such as whether any go weekends without eating or regularly come to school without completing homework. Then school officials can find a way to help those students, Heiden said.e curriculum.”

That’s just part of the plan teachers at Creekside and other Franklin elementary schools have created for the school year.

They also want to see more elementary school students earning pass-plus scores on ISTEP, which would mean they not only meet but exceed Indiana’s standards for their grade level.

Teachers at Franklin Community Middle School also want more students to pass the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus exam, while the high school’s goals involve ensuring at least 90 percent of students graduate on time, up from 88 percent in 2012.

Indiana law requires schools to create and submit reports with goals and plans to achieve them every year, and parents can view the improvement plan for their children’s school online. The plans, which were created after meetings involving teachers, administrators and parents, are what shape what schools do to help improve how well students are learning.

Elementary schools typically make student performance on ISTEP part of their goals because the state reviews those scores.

Creekside teachers and administrators want more students who receive free and reduced-price lunches to pass ISTEP and have listed increasing those students’ scores as a priority for the past four years.

That number has been slowly improving. About 53 percent of those students passed ISTEP during the 2008-09 school year. In 2012-13, the rate improved to 71 percent.

“What we’re really trying to do is make that gap smaller, so we get to the point where all of our kids achieve,” Heiden said.

Teachers and parents also want to be sure students aren’t just meeting the minimum requirements set for them by the state. That’s why school officials want more students to earn pass-plus scores on ISTEP.

To ensure that happens, teachers have to start thinking about what they’ll do if they’re teaching a lesson that some of their students already understand, Heiden said.

For example, if a math teacher simply launches into a lesson on fractions, the teacher won’t necessarily know what the students already have learned. But if a pretest is given before the lesson starts, it can give that teacher an idea of what students do know, he said.

That, in turn, will enable the teacher to create a specialized lesson for anyone who already understands fractions to challenge those students and better prepare them for future lessons, Heiden said.

“We don’t want to reteach it to them,” he said. “We want to use our time more effectively and advance them in th

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