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Dedham Elementary Schools Tackle English Scores

Principals laid out plans for improving English-language arts scores for the 2012 MCAS.

Dedham elementary students will get a boost from schools this year as the district looks to improve English-language arts MCAS scores.

Elementary principals laid out a comphrensive plan Wednesday evening to the Dedham School Committee aimed to reverse ELA results.

Three of the four elementary schools failed to meet adaquate yearly progress (AYP) in ELA for the aggregate. was the only to meet AYP, and in fact was the only school in the district to meet AYP for all subgroups and in the aggregate in both ELA and math.

As part of the changes, elementary schools will add skill-building sessions after school to help kids improve their ELA skills, principal Clare Sullivan said.

A similar program for math last year at Avery helped to improve the school's AYP mark by 6 percent, according to state-released data.

"At Avery, we feel that this has provided the best bang for our buck," Sullivan said. "We feel the gains we made in math this year are related to the fact that we were giving them support for every single week for a extended period of time."

The Steps for Success math program met after school one day a week and was free for students. Plans are for each elementary school to have a similar math and ELA program for students struggling with those subject areas.

Last year's program included fourth and fifth grade students, but Sullivan said each school will bring third graders on board this year.

"We're trying to reach students before they take the MCAS for the first time," Sullivan told the committee. "Kind of take a pre-emptive strike."

Elementary schools also will hold an after-school math program geared toward advanced students, and plans are for Avery to hold one for advanced ELA students, principals said.

The goal is for the programs to get up and running before October, Sullivan said.

Principals also are targeting ELA during the school day as well. In addition to a , fourth and fifth graders now are taking "leveled" reading classes in smaller clusters that allows teachers to better meet the needs of individual students, principal Kathy Kiewlicz said.

"We're excited about seeing what sort of outcome [we have]," Kiewlicz said. "We're excited about the size of the groups we are able to have, and we are hoping we see nice gains in student achievements."

Superintendent June Doe emphasized that the district continues to have math coaches working with students and faculty at the elementary level and the successes of hopefully will continue to be reflected in MCAS scores.

"I wouldn't want anyone to think that we are neglecting math because we've seen strong gains. That is absolutely not the case," Doe said. "We still have a long ways to go."

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