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Spring School Update from Mrs. Miller

Mrs. Tori Miller, School Principal

The bleakness of the winter has come and gone and Spring is in the air on the campus of St. Ignatius Catholic School. Students are presently taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) standardized testing in grades 2-8.  These test results are used as an indicator of how well our students are learning, how effectively teachers are instructing, and if the current curriculum is covering what concepts students need so that they are prepared for the next grade and to ultimately graduate from St. Ignatius well equipped for McGill-Toolen High School.  Teachers keep a close eye on the results of this data for each child. Every student at St. Ignatius has a continuum of care in regards to their educational growth and needs. Teachers use data from the students ITBS scores, the STAR Early Literacy, and Moby Max to monitor each child’s strengths and weaknesses and individualize instruction based on these needs.  Every year, student data folders are passed onto the next grade level teachers who meet to discuss the data so that the instructions and curriculum are designed to meet the needs of each individual child and group.  This summer, I will be producing a school-wide report on how students at every grade level performed on the 2019 ITBS.

Our school is committed to laying a strong foundation for early readers.  All teachers in preschool through third grade have been trained in the Phonic’s First Program.  The program uses the Orton Gillingham method of directed instruction utilizing a multi-sensory approach to teach phonics.  Teachers have noticed a significant improvement in student fluency, comprehension, and engagement since the institution of the curriculum.  We are using the phonics curriculum in PreK3 through 3rd grades. We utilize the Star Early Literacy Program to collect data on every student (K-8) at the beginning, middle, and end of each school year.  The last testing was in December (after only four months of the academic year) and the results speak for themselves!

In kindergarten, 69% of students are rated as “transitional/probable’ readers
1st grade – 96% of the class are rated as “transitional/probable” readers

What do the terms “transitional” and “probable” mean?  A transitional reader is a student who has mastered alphabet skill and letter-sound relationships.  The student can identify many beginning and ending consonant sounds and long and short vowel sounds and is probably able to blend sounds and word parts to read simple words.  The student is also likely using a variety of strategies to figure out words, such as pictures, story patterns, and phonics. The probable reader is becoming proficient as recognizing many words, both in and out of context.  The student spends less time identifying and sounding out words, and more time understanding what was read. Probable readers can blend sounds and word parts to read words and sentences more quickly, smoothly, and independently than students in the other stages of development.  Our faculty knows that with the introduction to Phonics First along with the Reading Street curriculum and whole language approach, we are teaching students to be successful readers with a strong foundation who will have a love of reading and a reliable tool for the remainder of their lives.

  • 2nd grade-76% of the class are reading on a 3rd grade and higher level
  • 3rd grade-85% have an independent reading level on or above grade level and reading one year ahead of predicted level
  • 4-5th grades-73% have an independent reading level on or above grade level and reading one year ahead of predicted level
  • 6th grade-61% have an independent reading level on or above grade level and reading one year ahead of predicted level
  • 7th grade-67% have an independent reading level on or above grade level and reading one year ahead of predicted level
  • 8th grade-55% have an independent reading level on or above grade level and reading one year ahead of predicted level

What do these statistics mean in a nut shell? On average, more than half of our entire student population in grades 2-8 are reading at least one year above where they should be. This is remarkable and we are very proud of all of our Impalas and their teachers who work so hard to make learning fun, engaging, and individualized.

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