Manaugh Elementary School is planning some radical things over the next few years to keep the school moving on the right track, Principal Donetta Jones told school board members at their meeting March 14.
The school received a tiered intervention grant (TIG) from the Colorado Department of Education that has allowed them to dive deeper into what needs to change at Manaugh, Jones said.
“We want to get a fresh perspective on what the school can be,” she said.
The grant was awarded in January, and the school will have a two-year budget of $487,000, according to CDE Turnaround Support Manager Nicole Monet. The grants are one of the main tools the department uses to assist low-performing schools, she said.
Manaugh improved from CDE’s “turnaround” accreditation status to the “priority improvement” rating last fall, Jones said.
Though it’s an improvement, it meant the school stayed on the state’s “accountability clock” for a fifth year. Schools and districts can be rated at priority improvement or turnaround – the two lowest state ratings – for a maximum five consecutive years before they face possible consequences and state intervention.
Jones said Manaugh was very close to moving off the clock with an even higher rating, but just missed out.
Now, teachers, administrators and parents are remaking the school by updating the school’s mission and values statements and improve the school’s culture.
A handful of Manaugh educators went on “bright spot” visits to two schools in Denver this winter. The schools – Rocky Mountain Prep and University Prep – are of similar size and socio-economic status as Manaugh.
Both schools featured ongoing, on-the-spot professional development for teachers. They meet with their peers daily to discuss lesson planning and strategies, Jones said. Both schools also featured more strategic use of their resources, Jones said. At University Prep, there was a strong emphasis on post-high school education, even with kindergarten classes.
The curriculum at the schools was rigorous, but joyful, Jones said. Kids had lots of work to do, but enjoyed it.
Teachers, administrators, parents and other stakeholders have joined a design team that is brainstorming possible changes for Manaugh, Jones said. Every decision is brought before all Manaugh teachers, she said.
One possible change is a modified school schedule that would see students return from summer break a week early, Jones said. Such a schedule would help improve learning retention as students move from one grade to the next, she said.
Jones hope to see more parents get involved with the planning process. She said she has faith in the research-based practices that are going on in her school.
“It’s the right work,” she said.