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Two FSSD schools awarded state grants

Two Franklin Special School District schools – Franklin Elementary and Johnson Elementary – have been awarded Focus Grants by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Out of 152 applications, 56 grants were awarded. Funds will provide an estimated $19.2 million investment to schools across the state during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. The grant program is designed to support schools with the largest achievement gaps between groups of students in developing deliberate, data-driven strategies to ensure growth for student subgroups that have underperformed their peers.

“The teams who worked on the grant applications from all three schools did an outstanding job in developing great plans to help address all student achievement levels with a particular focus upon the subgroups with significant achievement gaps,” said FSSD Director of Schools Dr. David Snowden. “We knew the competition for these grants would be great and we feel fortunate to have received two. We are excited about the opportunities these additional funds will provide for the students at Franklin and Johnson.”

While Liberty Elementary School’s proposal was not funded, it will accept the State’s offer of support through the use of external academic specialists who will provide personalized, embedded technical assistance to Focus Schools as they work to close existing gaps.

Franklin Elementary School

Franklin Elementary School’s winning grant proposal was written by a team of educators, who examined data, created a vision for change, and helped plan a program designed to make a difference for students with the largest achievement gaps, as identified by the 2011-12 TCAP test. This team consisted of faculty leaders on the “front-line,” especially those with the greatest insight for working with the subgroups of Black/Hispanic/Native and Economically Disadvantaged students, which the State determined to be the two areas most in need of focus. The total grant to be spent this year is $200,000, with an additional $200,000 next year pending the completion of performance goals.

“The intended purpose behind our grant is to increase student engagement across the board by offering more instructional opportunities through the use of technology. We also know that more time and support through after-school focused tutoring will go a long way to closing the identified achievement gaps,” said Franklin Elementary School Principal Dr. David Esslinger.

In planning a program to improve assessment results for HBN and ED students, the Focus Team examined the curriculum and instructional program at FES as well as the effectiveness of formative assessments currently in use. Franklin Elementary provides students a rigorous curriculum aligned with state standards, which includes a daily time slot for enrichment and intervention during the school day.

To increase opportunities for students in critical subgroups, the school will:

• provide intensive professional development for the entire faculty, which will include strategies for family involvement and the evaluation and communication of test results;

• reassign some teachers and staff to better meet students’ needs; and

• infuse additional instructional technology into the classrooms

Programs to specifically address identified problems will include:

• more comprehensive services to Tier 2 and Tier 3 students in the BHN and ED subgroups and (2) increase students’ access to and use of technology;

• more comprehensive services through accurate identification of students in need;

• revised job descriptions and the creation of a Reading Coach;

• integration of nonfiction books to a greater degree; and

• full utilization of paraprofessionals.

Technology access and use will be increased through the addition of technology, including: Promethean Boards, iPad carts, software for iPads, and a sound amplification system. A part-time technology integration specialist will be added to assist teachers in the best application of the new technology and software. Additional technology and professional development of its use will provide teachers with greater options for student engagement.

Johnson Elementary School

Johnson Elementary School’s winning grant proposal was written with an eye to helping all students continue to achieve, but with a concentrated focus on accelerating its struggling subgroups of Black/Hispanic/Native and Economically Disadvantaged students. It also is funded at $400,000 over two years, with $200,000 to be spent this year and additional $200,000 next year providing the school meets its performance goals.

To promote student achievement and academic success, the grant seeks to initiate programs that will develop teachers’ skills for effective instruction in working with a diverse group of students, while maintaining a child-centered atmosphere. A byproduct of the new initiatives will provide the added bonus of building staff solidarity through shared student goals.

The school has designed its program this year to ensure that teachers gear instruction during the regular school day to students’ individual needs. Students who need it will be provided additional instruction using strategic or intensive approaches. Time is built into the school day for interventions, but struggling students will be asked to come either after school and/or during the summer to really close the gaps that are hindering their academic success. Transportation and snacks will be provided for students who need after-school or summer instruction.

Specific objectives include:

• teachers meeting in grade-level teams twice weekly for reading and for math with a focus on improving academic skills of individual students, particularly from the BHN and ED groups;

• job-embedded professional development provided on best teaching strategies for multi-cultural education and economically disadvantaged students;

• a curriculum room, which will contain supplemental materials specific to BHN and ED instruction, available for teacher check-out;

• Technology infused in classrooms to help engage learners with targeted software to supplement learning as directed by the classroom teacher;

• use of the Gentry Foundation’s Summer Academy and Tutoring Program with certified teachers providing services outside of school hours.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: 10/3/2012

 
 

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