|CTA Freedom is extremely proud to announce that we have been awarded the 2011 Arizona A+ School of Excellence Award from the Arizona Educational Foundation. Below you will find our application as submitted to the Foundation. Our Freedom staff, students and school community are proud of our accomplishment and wish to share our success with you.
2010-2011 A+ SCHOOLS OF EXCELLENCE APPLICATION
Official School Name : Chandler Traditional Academy, Freedom Campus
Level (circle all grades that apply): Pre-K K 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Previous A+ School? _____Yes __X___No If Yes, Year(s)____________
Name of Principal: Mrs. Wendy J. Nance
School Mailing Address 6040 S. Joslyn Lane
City: Gilbert Zip: 85298
Primary Phone (480)224-2600 Principal Phone or ext.(480)224-2608
Principal Email email@example.com
Name of Superintendent: Dr. Camille Casteel
District Mailing Address: 1525 W. Frye Road
City: Chandler Zip: 85224
Primary Phone (480)812-7000 Superintendent Phone (480)812-7600
Superintendent Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your school is selected to receive a site visit, the review panel members will need directions to your school and will need to know dates that will present potential conflicts. Please complete the following:
Street Address City & Zip of school (if different from mailing address):____________________________
Detailed travel directions indicating surface streets that lead to your school:
CTA Freedom is located in the southeast valley off of Higley Road just north of Chandler Heights Road. To find our school from the north you will travel south on Higley Road. From Higley Road you will turn right on Crescent Way. Crescent Way is located 2 streets south of the intersection of Ocotillo and Higley Road. At the end of Crescent Way you will see our campus. Please make a left on Joslyn Lane in order to enter our parking lot, which is on the south side of our main building.
Best days of week, and times, to observe are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Time school buses begin arriving in the morning: __N/A____________Time classes begin: 8:20am
Time classes dismiss: 2:50pm Spring Break dates: March 14-March 29, 2011
Standardized testing dates: April 12-19, 2011
Early release, overnight or all-day field trips or other out-of-the-ordinary activities planned that might interfere with a site visit for the period February 1 – April 15, 2011; indicate grade level(s) affected:
Wednesday, February 2-Class Pictures-all grade levels; February 15-17-Write From the Beginning Conference-Multiple teachers off campus; Tuesday, February 22-Choral Festival-grades 3-6; Friday, February 25-Student Council Convention grades 4-6; Tuesday, March 1-Youth Frontiers 5th grade; Wednesday, March 2-Youth Frontiers 6th grade; Thursday, March 3-Spring pictures in Free Dress; Thursday, March 10-early dismissal for Student Led Conferences; Friday, April 8-1st grade field trip.
I have reviewed the information in this package, including the eligibility requirements, and certify that to the best of my knowledge it is accurate. If my school is recognized as an A+ School of Excellence, the contents of this application may be made available to the public.
I have reviewed the information in this package, including the eligibility requirements, and certify that to the best of my knowledge it is accurate.
I have reviewed the information in this package, including the eligibility requirements, and certify that to the best of my knowledge it is accurate.
School Board Member's signature
Preparation of A+ School Application
Representatives of all relevant stakeholder groups, i.e. administrators, teachers, other school staff, students, parents, and community representatives, should be involved in the preparation of the application. List the individuals actively involved in preparation. Insert additional pages if needed.
Name (list primary author(s) first) Position/Title
Susan Moresco Administrative Assistant
Wendy Nance Principal
Jane Weber Media Specialist
Jena Phillips 6th grade teacher
Jessica Johnston 2nd grade teacher
Dana Shields 5th grade teacher
Sarah Mazzola 5th grade teacher
Michelle Stegg School Counselor
Linda Chafey 5th grade teacher
Nora Wong Physical Education teacher
Karen Sejkora Music teacher
Joan Suhre 6th grade teacher
Linda Powers 4th grade teacher
Carol Colella 3rd grade teacher
Tawnya Felling 1st grade teacher
Stephanie Moore Kindergarten teacher
Susan Williams Attendance Technician
Kristina Eckenboy Health Assistant
Cindi Krauger Special Education Resource
Ann Gordon Reading Intervention Specialist
LaDon Dieu Site Council Representative
Jamie Sherwood PTO Co-President
Lisa Roesner PTO Co-President
Kathy Lynch Kindergarten teacher
Kim Pisano 6th grade teacher
MaryJo White 2nd grade teacher
Jana Nassar 5th grade teacher
Richelle Mortensen 2nd grade teacher
PART I: DEMOGRAPHIC DATA
1. Total number of Pre K-12 students enrolled in the district: As of November 3, 2010: 38,894
2. Number of schools in the district:
29 Elementary 6 Middle/Junior High Schools
0 K-8 4 High schools
TOTAL SCHOOLS: 39
3. Category that best describes the area where the school is located:
Urban or large central city
Suburban w/characteristics of urban areas
small city/town in rural area
4. Number of years the principal has been in her/his position at this school? 6 (see Eligibility Requirements)
If less than three years, how long was the previous principal at this school? N/A
5. Number of students enrolled at each grade level or its equivalent in the school applying for A+ status:
Pre-K 147 5th 133 9th _____
1st 136 6th 97 10th _____
2nd 138 7th _____ 11th _____
3rd 129 8th _____ 12th_____
6. Racial/ethnic composition of students in the school:
.34 % American Indian or Alaska Native
7.91 % Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
3.66 % Black or African American
7.56 % Hispanic or Latino
80.50 % White
7. Student turnover, or mobility rate, during the past year: 3.33 % (Calculate this rate by taking the total number of students who transferred to or from your school between October 1 and the end of the school year, divided by the total number of students in school as of October 1, and multiplying by 100.)
8. Limited English proficient students in the school:
Total number: 10 As a % of total student population: 1%
a. Total Number of languages represented: 7
Specify languages: Spanish, Filipino, Bengali, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Tagalog
9. Students who participate in free/reduced-priced meals:
Total number: 113 As a % of total student population: 12%
If this method is not a reasonably accurate estimate of the percentage of students from low-income families or the school does not participate in the federally-supported lunch program, specify a more accurate estimate, tell why the school chose it, and explain how it arrived at this estimate.
10. Students receiving special education services:
Total number: 87 As a % of total student population: 10%
27 Specific Learning Disability
12 DD/Health Impaired/Autistic
2 Other Severe (specify): Emotional Disability
Indicate if your school is the district site for any specific special education magnet program(s); if so, include student enrollment for program(s). N/A
11. Indicate number of full-time and part-time staff members in each of the categories below:
Number of Staff
Administrators 1 0
Classroom teachers 34 1
Resource teachers 2 0
Other specialists 4 5
Paraprofessionals 8 2
Other Support Staff 8 5
TOTAL FTE: 60
Describe any significant changes in the data reported in items 1-11 that have occurred during the past five years. Explain why the changes occurred and the impact on your school programs (use additional page if necessary).
Part II AND III: VISION/MISSION STATEMENTS AND SCHOOL SUMMARY
It is our daily mission at Chandler Traditional Academy Freedom campus to provide a rigorous academic environment that also supports and nurtures the development of respect, responsibility, and citizenship skills. Instruction is focused on the acquisition of skills and building a life-long desire for learning.
In order to maintain our mission, our student achievement goal for the 2010-2011 school year is focusing on increasing reading skills particularly in the area of expository text and vocabulary instruction. Every classroom has our common goal posted as our targeted learner centered problem.
We plan to reach this goal by adhering to the action plan developed collaboratively by our teaching staff. This plan addresses and measures the target area of improvement. Our staff development has been designed to allow for data analysis, and development of teaching skills that will result in improved student achievement. A site developed action plan has been established that has measurable benchmarks to document success. An important part of our action plan is peer observations of strategies being implemented, followed by feedback. This model of analysis will not only benefit the teacher being observed, but also will give potential ideas for improvement to the teacher observing.
We pride ourselves on having a professional group of teachers that continue to grow and further their education in order to have a greater affect on their students and in order to be in tune with the most cutting edge academic tools and philosophies. Our goal for professional development during the current school year is to immerse ourselves in the Data Wise training, data analysis, self reflection and the implementation of the action plan. We will also build upon our strong foundation of Thinking Maps and Spalding, as well as vocabulary instruction.
As a school community, we address and modify our vision of what a successful Freedom Falcon looks like through a variety of channels. The administration meets monthly with our Site Council to determine and review improvement goals, safety concerns, and overall student success. Parents are surveyed by both the Chandler Unified School District as well as our own Site Council Developed survey. Goals, priorities, success stories, and areas for improvement are communicated with parents and staff via a weekly newsletter that is both emailed to all parents and available online through our website.
CTA Freedom is a back to basics school offering an accelerated curriculum to more than 900 students located in the family oriented community of Gilbert, Arizona. As we have moved forward from the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we are reminded that freedom is a gift to be forever cherished. As our forefathers before us paved the way for the success we enjoy today, we as a school community must fight the battle for our children as they become the future of America. Patriotism is something to be valued, and taught at a young age. When one arrives on the campus of CTA Freedom, they are welcomed with a love for our community and country, and all it represents. Students of every race, religion, and culture make up our sea of red, white, and blue uniformed students. We proudly offer a solid foundation of fundamental and higher level thinking skills primarily through direct instruction. Our language arts curriculum utilizes the Spalding phonics program and we offer Saxon mathematics as our math curriculum. Additionally, our math instruction is advanced by one grade level to provide rigorous instruction that allows students an advantage as they move into junior high and high school coursework.As a school of choice for many of our students, our families find an environment of challenging curriculum and social acceptance within our patriotic walls.
We are fortunate as a school community to serve the needs of not only our neighborhood children, but students from the surrounding areas through our open enrollment policy. The demand for a strong, accelerated curriculum makes our campus desirable for many families near and far. We currently have approximately 340 of our student population approved for open enrollment at our school. Typically we range from between 200 and 250 students waiting to gain admittance should we have an opening. The majority of our students come from upper middle class households. Most reside in single family homes within the surrounding and outlying subdivisions of our school. Transportation to and from school is provided by the families of our students. The Town of Gilbert is inherently known for its deep tradition of family values, beautiful parks and open areas, extra-curricular youth activities, and a strong sense of community. Although a suburb of Phoenix, the sixth largest city in the United States, it is normal to see a group on horseback while en route to school or live next door to a family with livestock. The southeast portion of Gilbert is also widely known for its dairy farms, cotton fields and close proximity to the beautiful San Tan Mountains that are home to the San Tan Regional Park. This allows our students the opportunity to enjoy the advantages of city life as well as experience all that a smaller, more rural town, has to offer.
Our campus buildings are unique and contemporary modular construction units. They are made up of two free standing buildings and one portable with two classrooms. This process of construction is environmentally friendly and progressively unmatched. Our main building is home to our K-4th graders and is easy to navigate with each grade level housed in their own hallway. This building feature allows for smooth and safe transitions for students. Our ‘B' building and portable classrooms house our 5th and 6th graders. Our landscape and playgrounds are beautifully manicured and maintained. We are most proud and appreciative of our newly planted trees. One of our dedicated parents applied for and was awarded a $1000 grant via the Pepsi Corporation to plant trees around our campus. These fifteen trees will offer shade and protection from the sun for our students for generations to come. We are continually impressed by the dedication of our parents provide for our school and its students, present and future.
This current generation of youth is faced with hardships and challenges that they are unable to understand. Unfortunate and unforeseeable issues at home often trickle down to our children. Many families are losing their homes, parents are losing jobs, and mothers are going back into the workforce to make ends meet. Our daily challenge is to be the stability and stronghold for our students. Not only are we called on to educate, but rather, lead our students to become successful, accountable, productive young adults with strong morals and character. It is our goal at CTA Freedom to ensure that each student leaves daily knowing they are important and that they make a difference to the world around them. Our school's expectations and tradition of taking care of our planet, respecting others around us, holding one another accountable, and exhibiting kindness to others is evident not only during school hours but at home as well. Our country cannot successfully move forward without these types of individuals. We feel fortunate as educators to be able to make a lasting impression on the lives of our students and will continue to make real our vision to create lifelong learners and responsible citizens.
A. SCHOOL ORGANIZATION AND CULTURE
A1. What are the underlying values, beliefs, and traditions that have built up over time as people work together, solve problems and confront challenges.
CTA Freedom provides an environment that fosters learning, responsibility, character skills, safety, and trust. Every aspect of our campus lends itself to positive reinforcement that reminds our students of the impact they have on one another. Our school hallways are filled with motivational phrases utilizing bulletin boards to recognize students for positive behaviors. Pride and respect of our country are evident in our patriotic décor. Red, white, and blue can be found around every corner. Our current core philosophy of “B212-Going the Extra Degree” is posted in every classroom and around campus. Yearly our students pledge to remain Bully Free and Drug Free. You will hear more about our B212 campaign and Drug and Bully Free commitment are discussed further in section B.
Our main underlying value of a strong educational foundation is evident not only where our classrooms are concerned, but within every facet of our school community. We believe students who feel at home on campus perform more efficiently and effectively. We do our best to create a family friendly environment through extra curricular activities. Bi-annually our dedicated PTO holds family picnics for our school community. Our first picnic is held in the fall as a way to become familiar with new classmates and families. Our spring picnic focuses on family, art, and science. Families enjoy touring around campus viewing our student's art on display as well as shopping at our PTO Craft Fair and Boutique. At either picnic entertainment is provided by local businesses. This past fall, local police, military and fire were invited as we celebrated our “community heroes.” Students were able to interact with them and explore their careers. Each picnic aligns with our book fair which allows our families to become more intimately acquainted with our Media Center and all it offers. Our PTO and Dad's Club work together to provide family events that support our mission of providing an atmosphere that serves the whole student. Past and present activities include Donuts with Dad, Muffins with Mom, Art Walk, Stargazing, Family Movie Night, Spring Craft Fair and Boutique, Frontier Day, Read Across America, Art Walk, 100th Day Celebration, Teacher and Staff Appreciation, Sweethearts' Dance, B212 Day, Restaurant Nights, Back to School Night, and general meetings.
A2. How does the school foster positive interactions, respect, cooperation, and collaboration between and among students and adults, and promote a healthy peer climate among students?
Our school fosters positive interactions, respect, cooperation and collaboration daily. It begins in the classroom. Teachers model problem solving behavior and respectful actions. Teachers closely monitor classroom activities and identify where issues may be surfacing. Our school recognizes that cooperation is essential to success not only with our students, but among staff and parents as well. Each year our 6th grade classes partner with kindergarten classes in our KinderBuddy program. This program gives our older students the opportunity to be effective role models, as well as help our incoming Freedom Falcons feel comfortable in a new setting. Self esteem is enhanced with both groups of students.
We foster communication and encourage that each voice be heard. Students feel comfortable with our open door policy and know that teachers, staff and administrators are available when needed. We celebrate our diversity acknowledging what makes us unique. If the need arises, a special presentation on disabilities is held at the classroom level to heighten awareness of a given situation. Our counselor teaches social lessons, mediates conflicts, and helps motivate students. Students are taught how to interact and respect one another. Our kindergarten classrooms are introduced to social skills with mini lessons that involve role playing and practice at home. Students struggling with group activities participate in peer buddy groups. These groups regularly complete community service on campus to foster and develop relationships among themselves. Expectations for students are identified and executed with teacher led strategies at the classroom level. In addition, our students are aware of consequences for choices made. School wide presentations are held yearly to reinforce expectations. Multiple reward systems are in place to acknowledge exemplary behavior. In addition to our educators, our paraprofessionals and classified staff are committed to providing and maintaining a positive climate at our school.
A3. What is the school's plan for school wide safety, discipline and drug prevention?
As a school community, we are focused and committed to remain a Bully Free School. During our first two years we received grants to participate in Olweus “Bully Free Program.” All Staff and students were trained on the importance of awareness and the signs of bullying in order to remain a bully free school. Students are exposed to positive attitudes and problem solving on a daily basis. We address the self esteem of students and keep the lines of communication open between home and school. Students, teachers, and parents are encouraged to make referrals when concerns arise. Incidents, no matter the severity, are handled promptly and everyone involved has a voice. Parents participate in this process. Our attentiveness to this program has resulted in a decrease in referrals to less than five incidents per year. Most incidents are resolved after the first meeting with administration.
To instill a tradition of remaining a Bully Free Campus we held a Bully Free Kick-off Picnic for our school community. Presentations were made by local business members and fire and police officers. Students spoke about commitments to remain bully free and presented CUSD District Board Members with a Bully Free Proclamation. In order to facilitate this program, we partnered with Desert Wells Family Medicine and the Barney family. Their support has proven invaluable. During our annual Red Ribbon and Bully Prevention Week this year we invited nationally recognized speaker Mark Trombino to our campus. His informative and motivating presentation exposed our students to bully prevention strategies and fostered an appreciation for diversity. Mr. Trombino also presented his information to our parents.
Red Ribbon Week will always be important and an ongoing focus on our campus. CTA Freedom celebrates Red Ribbon Week in conjunction with our Bully Free celebration. ASU's Sparky, Ronald McDonald, Arizona Cardinals Running Back James Hodgins, Basha High School and Perry High School have participated in our celebrations. In order to teach the importance of remaining drug free, our student population participates in a variety of activities to renew our commitment. Two years in a row, our school diligently put together a Drug Free quilt that was created from patches each class personalized with their signatures. These signature quilts serve as a visual dedication to remain drug free and hang in our Multi-purpose room and computer lab for all to see on a daily basis.
School wide safety is a top priority at CTA Freedom. It is our goal to provide a safe, well disciplined, and an organized environment for our students. Each year our Crisis Intervention Team generates an official crisis plan. This document outlines the steps to be taken to assure that any crisis, major disciplinary issue or special situation is handled appropriately and in a timely manner. Our Site Council then reviews this plan, and gives suggestions for additional improvement. Finally, this plan is then presented to all staff. Fire and lock down drills are scheduled monthly and are used by administration to find any issues or retrain any situations that may need to be addressed. Our district evaluations for these drills are always positive, and we communicate our good marks with the campus in order to maintain their effectiveness. Our teachers, staff and students are all involved in our traffic procedures. We have teachers that monitor traffic, keep our parking lot safe and teach crosswalk safety to students. Additionally, teachers actively patrol morning playground and welcome students to school each day. Each duty teacher carries a hand held radio should the need arise to notify the front office of emergencies. Our Student Council assists our teachers in our drop off areas before school. They help students exit cars and assist younger students to the playground. Our front office staff is available to make phone calls to parents to confirm transportation requests from students, locate misplaced students, and relay messages to teachers and students regarding transportation. Assuring that students remain safe to, from and during school is not only essential, but continues to create an atmosphere of comfort and safety for our school community.
B. STUDENT FOCUS AND SUPPORT
B1. How is the school's population best described?
At CTA Freedom we strive to live up to the quote “A word of encouragement during failure is better than an hour of praise after success.” Our mission is to provide a rigorous academic environment that also supports the development of respect, responsibility, and citizenship skills. Every staff member at CTA Freedom is committed to see that every student be given an equal opportunity to succeed. Whether it be a veteran teacher or an office worker, student achievement is the ultimate goal. From the moment a student enters the school, they are welcomed with smiles, encouragement, and warmth. A student's comfort level while in school is directly correlated to how they will perform. It is our daily goal that each student be greeted with a smile, encouraging word, high five, or warm hello.
CTA Freedom is a unique mix of both gifted students who require a challenging workload and incoming students who have not been involved in an accelerated curriculum. We also support a group of special education students with whom our teachers work to meet specific needs. When necessary, students new to our accelerated curriculum have the opportunity to receive tutoring to help them reach the academic level on which class is working. To identify academic needs, we review test scores and daily student work. Additionally, our grade level teams meet and discuss that information in their weekly planning meetings to identify students who need help. Our non-academic needs, whether social or physical, are identified by teachers and/or parents that come to us with concerns. Once acknowledged, the situation is addressed in a variety of ways through our counselor and administration.
Our campus has a rigorous academic calendar, and we strive to keep every student focused and encouraged. When a student has been identified as falling below our standard, or at risk, we immediately offer supplemental support via tutoring. Our tutoring is designed to focus on missing foundational skills that will help students progress in the daily curriculum and is offered both before and after school. Tutoring begins in the middle of the first quarter and ends in the middle of the fourth quarter. All parents with students requiring tutoring are asked to attend an intervention conference. During that conference, the teacher and parent identify where the student needs reinforcement and agree upon a plan to improve the student's performance. Tutoring impacts approximately 150 students per year school wide. If tutoring does not meet the expectations set forth by the parent and teacher, the student will then be referred to the Teacher Assistance Team (TAT) for further identification of needs.
B2. How is your school structured to meet the varied needs of your student population?
We are proud to have multi-talented teachers who sponsor various clubs on campus to supplement and enhance our student's academic efforts. Clubs that are sponsored by CTA Freedom teachers before or after school are: Chess Club, Nature/Recycling Club, Jump Rope Club, Running Club, Homework Club, Newspaper Club, Math Counts, Science Club, Computer Club, Student Council, Freedom Readers, Battle of the Books, Intramurals, Chorus, Orchestra, and Band. The benefits of after school clubs and how they relate and supplement classroom instruction will be discussed in section D. We are thankful to have such dedicated teachers who invest in our students, making a lasting impression that can take with them when they leave us.
One club that encourages learning is our Freedom Readers Club. This club is held during lunch for 4th graders. Freedom Readers share the great books they have read and encourage the love of reading and discussing books with others. Club members have the opportunity to listen to books on audio. This adapts to all readers, thus struggling readers along with accomplished readers can participate.
Our extra curricular music program at Freedom fosters creative thinking among its participants. Students in 4th-6th grade have the option of participating in Chorus. This popular group normally averages between 80-100 participants and presents two concerts per year. This last year, chorus had the honor of performing at the State Capitol and annually participates in the Chandler School District Choral Festival. In addition to chorus, students in 5th and 6th also have the opportunity to participate in Band and Orchestra before or after school. Each group applies concepts taught in the general music classes to learn to play an instrument and performs in a concert twice a year.
In addition to our teacher sponsored clubs, we offer a variety of after school programs and before and after school care through our Community Education Department. These clubs, along with our teacher sponsored clubs, support our mission to educate the whole child by encouraging exploration of different avenues in which to foster life long learning. We have been proud to provide Spanish, soccer, water activities, Mad Science, Art Masterpiece, Young Rembrandts, keyboarding, golf, tennis, Athletes in Training, and dance in order to enhance our students' interests.
B3. How does the school address student's physical, social and emotional needs, and intervene when student personal needs are preventing academic success?
Character education is a strong theme found in and around our campus. This enrichment program infiltrates each student and becomes who we are as a community. Our teachers use the Character Counts program in each of their classrooms as part of our school wide focus of promoting citizenship. Each month students celebrate one of the six foundational core values. Each teacher acknowledges two students to be recognized as exemplary models for the designated trait. Those students are given awards for their achievement. In March we are excited to be sending our 5th and 6th grade classes to a day long “Youth Frontiers” kindness workshop. We have invited the Student Councils from both Basha and Perry High Schools to assist our students with the day's events. To supplement our school's in-house Character Counts program we hold annual assemblies to motivate and encourage students. We have enjoyed having Primary Focus on campus to present these assemblies. The cast interacted with our students on campus during lunch and visited classrooms encouraging them, one on one, to be an example of the six pillars of character. Our intermediate grades were then given an assignment to complete that integrated writing and character traits.
We are proud to have a campus full of students and staff that give more than they take and are positive role models. In addition to our Character Counts focus we have introduced the concept of 212° The Extra Degree®, written by Sam Parker of givemore.com. B212 follows the principle: "At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train. Just one extra degree can make all the difference. 212° The Extra Degree®.” Our students and staff are dedicated to going the extra degree to make a difference, whether it is during the school day or afterwards. We recognize students that “go the extra degree” quarterly for their efforts with a certificate, custom t-shirt and photo to congratulate them on making a difference.
We are fortunate to have a full time counselor at CTA Freedom who is available to our students, staff, and parents when the need arises. Our counselor is a resource to parents, helping them find outside services that are able to help them. She can be found at any given time around campus sharing hugs with students or in her office having lunch with multiple students. In addition to her individual or group visits, she spends time in classrooms teaching topics such as Tattling vs. Telling, self-control, and manners. She facilitates community service groups on campus as a means to teach students how to work more cooperatively together, work out differences and/or serve one another. As a Love and Logic facilitator, she conducts a parent course “Becoming a Love and Logic Parent” on campus. Other programs implemented include Mean Girls, school anxiety, and worry stones, holiday food drives, student behavior modification, Bucket Story, and grief support.
As a regular practice, in order to encourage positive attitudes and improved behavior with teacher identified students, our counselor has a “Try” or “T” party. When the student is caught doing their best they are given their “T”. That student brings “T” to the office for their party where the entire office celebrates. We see improved behavior almost immediately with students invited to a “T” party and the student typically continues their good behavior.
Unfortunately, we have had instances to serve students and their families as they battle illnesses or grieve losses. During these tragic times we have rallied as a staff to make their lives a bit more comfortable and less daunting. As a school community, we have provided meals, put together gift baskets and hospital necessities, and made visits where appropriate to lift spirits. Upon a father's lost battle with cancer, our staff again came together and provided a tree to be planted in his memory. In addition to the live tree, a giving tree filled with gift cards donated by our entire school community was given to the family. In 2008, one of our students was diagnosed with cancer. As a school community we immediately came to his family's side to partner with them during his treatment showering him with encouragement, support, and love in any way possible. On his birthday our staff collected money and purchased a huge gift basket of electronics to keep him occupied while in the hospital receiving treatment. Our whole school missed him dearly and made a video birthday card for him as a surprise. After he was released from the hospital, and was strong enough, our staff arranged that he be treated as a “firefighter for a day”. He joined the Mesa Fire Department riding on the fire truck, and spending time at the fire house. Life, unfortunately, takes turns we are not ready for, but we will always have a desire to be a community that lifts the spirits of those when their road becomes rocky.
Our Health Assistant plays an instrumental part to keeping our campus healthy and well. Her welcoming smile warms those that must visit her office. She conducts screenings for vision and hearing to identify student needs, offers free immunizations courtesy of our school district, and communicates information regarding free medical assistance. She is a knowledgeable resource for parents who have questions regarding their child's well-being or are inquiring about referrals for local doctors.
This past year our Heath Assistant, in conjunction with our Site Council, helped orchestrate our first uniform swap. This ongoing service offers gently used and new uniforms to those who need them. We placed a special request to our families to clean out their closets to facilitate our uniform swap. As usual, our Freedom parents responded in a way that no one could predict. We had bag after bag of clothing that had to be moved from our health office to a larger space in order to accommodate the donations. We had ten volunteers assist in dividing the clothing up by gender and size. We then had the task of giving the clothing away. The requests started out slowly, but then quickly gained momentum. We were able to assist approximately seventy-five families we serve and donated additional clothing to four sister schools within the Chandler School District. This event was a great success within our community and will continue to be implemented.
Adjusting to a new school can be more overwhelming for the parent than the student at times. We strive to put our newest Falcons and their parents at ease with a variety of programs. Our first opportunity is through parent tours, which are held the first and third Wednesday of every month. We provide new and prospective families with information about our curriculum, expectations, dress code, and enrollment procedures. Parents watch a DVD about our school and are given the opportunity to ask questions and tour our campus. Once a child is enrolled, whether it is at the beginning of the school year or throughout the year, every effort is made to communicate with families about important information and events at CTA Freedom. This information will be presented in great detail in section G. We also hold “Meet the Teacher” and “Curriculum Night” before the school year begins and just after we return, respectively. Both of these presentations give parents the opportunity to gain knowledge that allows them to be a more active participant in their child's education. Classroom teachers offer support in the form of parent training in the areas of Spalding and math, and schedule tutoring for students that may need additional help. Parents of incoming kindergartners have additional opportunities to help guide their students by attending an orientation the May before the school year starts, and again during first quarter and second quarter as they transition to new skills. Finally, during the summer months we join with other CTA campuses to host a “Summer Academy” course that is designed to help those students needing extra reinforcement or those new to our curriculum needing more instruction. This is the only fee based instruction support that we offer, but scholarships are available.
Our parents not only value the education their students receive from CTA Freedom, but also understand the importance of school attendance. To date, we have experienced very few attendance issues that require mediation. Any issues that have surfaced are handled on an individual basis with administration, parents, and teacher, where appropriate. During this meeting, a plan of action is created in order to resolve the situation.
B4. How has your school demonstrated a commitment to addressing the accessibility and safety of its facilities and programs to students with disabilities?
Our facility meets all federal, state and local ordinances to allow students and parents with disabilities full access to our entire facility. Our site was reviewed during the opening school year and changes were made immediately to our facility in order to comply with requirements. Whether the need be automatic doors or access to playground equipment, our school is equipped to provide a safe, accessible setting for all.
C. PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES
C1. Describe your coherent approach to professional development that ensures ongoing learning for staff.
CTA Freedom's reputation of being an excellent academic environment for students in the southeast valley is a direct tribute to the teaching staff that supports it. Our certified staff has a wide range of professional development and career experience, and the support for newly hired teachers is incomparable. New teachers at our school experience a formal mentorship program through the district as well as constant mentoring from peers right here at Freedom. Grade levels work together to guide new teachers to ensure success and efficacy. Working tightly as a grade level team, new teachers are constantly meeting and collaborating to get new ideas, highlight effective techniques, and have questions answered. All teachers at Freedom are on multiple committees in which they can share their expertise, gain leadership experience, and undertake responsibilities that relate to the success of our school as a whole. Each grade level commits to a minimum of one hour of common planning time per week, in addition to monthly staff meetings. These weekly team meetings focus on sharing new lesson ideas and strategies for meeting the needs of all our students. Research, course work, and degree programs are in constant progress. Currently, 76% of our certified staff hold a Master's Degree in education related coursework. Some of those degrees held by our certified staff include: Reading and Children's Literacy, Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Technology, Multi-Cultural and Bilingual Education, and Special Education. Our teachers' commitment to higher education is a testament to their belief in learning as a life-long endeavor and serves as a positive model for our students.
Individuals at CTA Freedom are constantly advancing their professional growth. Our teachers have a generous amount of on-site and off-site training experience. Funds are designated for staff development to support school goals. Our staff participates in interest surveys which set the direction for the upcoming year of staff development. Some of the trainings and conferences CTA Freedom teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, and support staff have attended include the following: Write From the Beginning, Thinking Maps, Spalding part I, Spalding part II, Dyslexia workshops, State Kindergarten Conferences, Love and Logic, HOPE conference, Read Naturally, DIBELS, 6 Traits, Schoolwires, Easiteach, Autistic Spectrum/Asperger's Syndrome Conference, Urban and Field Ecology, CLIP, ELD Thinking Maps, Math Thinking Maps, International Reading Association Conference, Dr. Jean Workshop, Literacy Center Workshop, Peggy Sharp's What's New in Children's Literature, Kodaly Workshops, Microcomputers in Education Conference, Rethinking Vocabulary, Brain Gym, Student Engagement, Multiple Intelligences, Lindamood Bell, Response to Intervention, Webb Depth of Knowledge, Document Camera Lessons, Mean Girls, Olweus Bullying, Six Minute Fluency, Renaissance National Conference, Irish Music, Breakthrough Coaching, Thinking Maps for Leadership, ELD-seven day state training, Structured English Immersion, Crisis Prevention Intervention, Classroom Management Strategies, Data Wise, Effective Strategies for Paraprofessionals in Inclusion Rooms, Writing Notebooks, Excel, Stress Management, Algebra and Geometry for 5th-8th grades, Discrete Math, Project Wet, Science in the Bag! Elementary Writing in Science, Physical Science through Inquiry for Elementary Teachers, Spatial Reasoning for 5th-8th grades, Integers, Orff Workshops, Brain Research and Differentiated Instruction, Enabling Students with Special Needs to Succeed in Math Class for 4th-8th grades, Space Discovery, Inquiring Minds Want to Know, Accelerated Reader-Setting Goals and Motivation, Accelerated Reader-Status of the Class, Thinking Maps-Non Fiction Text.
We are in a very fortunate position to be able to have highly qualified teachers within our own staff. A large percentage of our staff are certified trainers in specific curriculum areas which allows us to have smaller on campus trainings to refine our skills. Monthly staff meetings and teacher work days are devoted to on-site professional development. All teachers at CTA Freedom are provided the same core trainings. This promotes consistency throughout all grade levels and special areas, and is evidenced by a cohesive model demonstrated in all classrooms. Strategically, each grade level has at least one trained trainer in both Write From the Beginning and Thinking Maps. This allows us, within our grade level teams, to share ideas and model research based instruction for our colleagues on a consistent basis. School wide, we have one Spalding Certified Instructor Trainer, one Love and Logic trained facilitator, 20 Thinking Maps Trainers and 17 Write From the Beginning Trainers. Our Spalding Certified Instructor Trainer has personally trained over 500 teachers in the Spalding curriculum either locally within our own district or from other districts throughout the state of Arizona. Additionally, our Thinking Maps and Write from the Beginning trainers have impacted 15 schools both in and outside of our district through curriculum training. These trainers work with our campus and other schools within our district.
C2. What opportunities do teachers and other staff members have to participate in professional learning communities that enhance their ability to support student leaning?
Our grade level teams are a critical component of our school's success. Teams meet weekly to discuss curriculum related issues, plan lessons, discuss students who might be struggling, analyze data, and develop plans of action to make positive changes. Each teacher is responsible for setting individual professional goals each school year, while each grade level team collectively sets team goals. Grade levels work together to create an action plan for the most effective way they will achieve their stated goals and evaluate their progress twice a year, making adjustments as necessary. Our teams become more unified during this process as it is necessary to work jointly in order to meet the goals each year. Grade level goals are often centered on analyzing data and using it to refine classroom instruction for students or using technology more effectively. Teams utilize our online Assessment Management for Instruction (AMI) software to effectively monitor student progress, and plan instruction according to student strengths and weaknesses. Each meeting is then documented, and the lessons prepared are cross referenced to ensure they adhere to Arizona State Standards. Teams and individuals are often asked to share instructional strategies at our monthly staff meetings, allowing teachers to further impact student success.
Our teachers find vertical articulation between adjacent grade levels an essential function to the success of each grade level, and they participate in meetings on multiple occasions throughout the year. These meetings provide the grade level above the openness to communicate specific instructional needs which consequently allows the grade below to align instruction accordingly. Furthermore, it provides the grade level below to share what strengths their incoming students possess. For example, this year our 5th grade teachers suggested the 4th grade team use a sampling of the scientific method materials currently being utilized in 5th grade in order for our fourth graders to become more familiar with them for the following year. This cohesiveness will help students feel more confident when they begin individual science fair projects in 5th grade. Awareness of expectations from the upcoming grade gives our students an edge when it comes to excelling in the classroom. This collaboration between adjacent grade levels also allows us to map out overall deficiencies we see in student abilities and create a plan of action to better meet needs so students are successful as they move on to the next grade.
C3. How has teacher professional development improved teaching, school culture, and student achievement and success?
The formal process of state mandated evaluations create an avenue through which administrators can improve skills and support the professional development of our teachers and staff. All staff members receive feedback on their performance in numerous ways: informal walkthroughs and formal evaluations by administrators, evaluations with our instructional specialist from the district curriculum department, goal setting and review with administrator, peer observations, and parent/student surveys provide feedback for grade levels. Information is identified from evaluations and surveys and used to individualize conferences, or workshops that would assist with meeting those goals. All feedback is provided in a timely manner so teachers may adjust their instruction if necessary to help students succeed.
We, as a staff of coworkers, are extremely supportive of one another. We shower one another with notes, drop encouraging emails, send e-cards, and show appreciation in creative ways. Our teachers are modeling positive friendships for our students. At staff meetings, we have more “formal” awards for thinking out of the box, innovative ideas, special care of peer or student, and willingness to pitch in and B212. We hold curriculum competitions, such as best use of a Thinking Map as it pertains to your current instruction. We have two programs at our site for our staff to recognize each other for outstanding effort. “A Drop in Your Bucket” encourages staff members write kind words of affirmation about other staff on drops of paper and add it to our “bucket” in the lounge. We also “Pay it Forward” in which a staff member gets a small treat or note to brighten their day and then have to do the same for another staff member. Our site also recognizes a staff member, parent and student twice a year at our district award recognition ceremony.
We at CTA Freedom, consider ourselves a family. There is no other way to describe us, however cliché it may sound. When one is happy or sad, others will support them. We celebrate successes as if they were are our own and take care of each other in times of need. We are not just co-workers, but friends. We take vacations together, celebrate birthdays and holidays, and support one another with passions and causes. We have a genuine care for one another, not only during work, but more importantly outside. Our friendships create an environment where work is the place we choose to be, not the place where we go and earn a paycheck. It makes the bad days more manageable and the good days memorable. We love and appreciate one another, plain and simple.
D. ACTIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING
D1. How are teaching practices and learning experiences consistent with current knowledge and research about successful teaching and learning?
In order to have a cohesive learning environment, it is imperative to have teachers that are committed to working cooperatively with one another. Our teachers at CTA Freedom have unified expectations for curriculum and achievement that help every student to reach his/her full potential. Curriculum procedures are established to ensure that CTA Freedom will meet and exceed the expectations of parents, teachers, administration, and the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. All teachers utilize whole class instruction, direct teaching, and approved methods with an emphasis on meeting individual needs. Instructional time and students' time on task is maximized. Classroom activities not directly related to academic tasks are kept to a minimum in all grade levels. As a traditional school, we focus on consistency to ensure a strong continuum of K-6th classrooms.
Student achievement is a factor of utmost importance when placing students into classrooms. Clusters are identified on each grade level (i.e. gifted, inclusion, ELL) in order to enhance differentiation. Each cluster is then assigned to a specific teacher whose instruction will be tailored to meet their needs. Remaining students' class placement will allow for mixed abilities in and amongst those target groups. Teachers rotate cluster groups each school year in order to develop and increase their teaching skills to effectively meet the diverse needs of students. Several times a year, teachers who work with cluster groups meet to ensure consistency and share ideas among one another. Furthermore, resources for teachers of every student population are available in our teacher workroom to be utilized in advancing their students' success.
As a part of our school mission to maintain a rigorous academic environment, we strive to be at the forefront of the latest research. Our recent staff development focus has been on utilizing Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) rubrics and higher level thinking. Teachers were asked to examine the Arizona state standards and label all DOK language, in order to identify what level of thinking was involved. To deepen teacher understanding, teachers were asked to write a content level question for their respective grade level aligning to the different DOK levels. These were presented at a staff meeting and reviewed. This process not only gave our teachers a better understanding of the material focus, but also knowledge of how they could develop DOK questioning activities themselves.
In addition to DOK, our staff is involved in a year-long training and implementation of Data Wise through which teachers use and apply data to their instructional strategies in the classroom in order to positively impact student learning. Assessments in the classroom are being developed by teachers to include actual application of material covered. Student work is also used to assess mastery of skills.
Our staff prides themselves on encouraging each student to be successful, responsible, and respectful. Each staff member is dedicated to the traditional philosophy of learning and understands the importance of the practices it demands. We model the standard of behavior set forth by the administration by abiding by school rules and illustrating appropriate manners of conduct in all situations. When in the office, you might find a staff member reinforcing the value of being a good friend with a student or offering words of encouragement regarding handwriting. To encourage cooperative learning skills and teach respect, our playground aides encouraged our 6th grade students to buddy up with younger students. Our older students are a key element in helping our younger students feels safe, welcome, and included during outside play. Students are encouraged by all staff members to be accountable for their actions, work to the best of their ability and celebrate their accomplishments.
D2. What does the school do to accelerate the learning of student who fall below basic standards, and/or mastery?
Students who perform below grade level academic standards are assessed several times a year to mark growth and progress. We utilize monthly classroom assessments in the areas of language arts and mathematics to track mastery of basic skills. Reading assessments are administered three times a year through STAR and STAR Early Literacy computer software. Accelerated Math is used in grades 3rd-6th to individualize skill practice for students to fill in gaps. Progress monitoring is used grades K-6th related to DIBELS assessments. Data gathered in all areas is reviewed and adjustments to content are made accordingly. Documentation of growth is available on our assessment software.
A Reading Intervention Specialist is used to focus on reading in grades K-3rd for targeted students. She meets with them two times per week for thirty minutes sessions to increase the students' reading instruction opportunities. All grades K-6th utilize mini lessons to re-teach reading skills and six minute fluency lessons to strengthen oral reading fluency. Our special education is 85% inclusion model, so teachers co-teach lessons and modify assignments as necessary.
D3. What processes, strategies and management systems are used to assure safe, orderly school and classroom environments?
Appropriate discipline techniques, with a focus on positive reinforcement, are used to maintain a structured, calm, and orderly atmosphere in and around our campus. School wide rules are reviewed the first week of school and throughout the year. Students are well aware of the consequences for inappropriate behavior as they are clearly defined and enforced without fail.
Consistency with school wide discipline is what our students experience and expect from everyone on staff. Classroom, playground, and cafeteria rules are specific and reinforced with the students. Cafeteria rules are posted creatively on the walls of the cafeteria and have been integrated into a game in which each classroom is awarded points and rewards for good behavior. Consequences are also posted for behavior that does not meet expectations. In order to model responsibility, students are assigned jobs in the cafeteria and carry out their duties with pride. Students rotate jobs weekly, allowing each student the opportunity to contribute. Playground behavior is monitored by both staff and student helpers with consequences and interventions when necessary. Our students enjoy the opportunity to B212 and can be found daily picking up litter on our playground or helping younger students. Students are regularly acknowledged for “going the extra mile.”
Grade levels develop consistent policies regarding behavior, work, and assignments. These rules are communicated to students as well as parents in newsletters, at Curriculum Night, and on our website. Teachers utilize agendas in all grade levels in an effort to demonstrate to students the importance of staying organized and make them aware of deadlines. Grades K-2nd utilizes half page tracking sheets as agendas while grades 3rd-6th have formal agendas. School wide, we praise good behavior with “Caught Being Good” tickets for classrooms that are exceptional which entitle them to rewards as well as weekly “Star Performers” which recognizes individual students for academic or behavioral success. Teachers are encouraged to send home a post card note, recognizing academic and behavioral achievements for each student.
D4. What opportunities (provide specific examples and outcomes) do students have to apply learning to real world situations?
It is vital for students to make the connection that what they learn in the classroom has relevance in the real world. Our grade levels make every effort to connect lessons with typical daily situations. For example, our 2nd graders complete a science unit on life cycles by studying butterflies. Teachers integrate reading, writing, math, and science in their unit, and watch the living insects move through each stage of growth. Students keep journals throughout their study and as a culminating activity the entire grade level goes out on to the field to release them into the wild. Students in our 6th grade science classes explore the topic of renewable energy with their wind turbine challenge each year. Students design wind turbine blades while they learn about basic electronics, energy transfer, and the scientific fields working to solve the energy crisis today. Throughout this unit, students are also exploring other ways that Arizona uses alternative energy. Through the Salt River Project's online resources, students are able to interact in an activity that not only teaches students about solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, but also shows how these naturally occurring resources have been used by ancient civilizations.
We are very proud of our recycling program started by our Nature Club, and use it as a way to connect educational lessons with conservation. In 4th<, /SUP> grade science students learn how resources can be conserved through reducing, reusing, and recy, cling. Our Nature Club gives 4th and 5th grade students the opportunity to practice skills each week. The City of Chandler Solid Waste Department partnered with our Nature Club to teach students how to identify the items that are recyclable. After their training, the club developed a school wide recycling program and presented information to each classroom. This program reinforces using critical thinking before disposing of items. Specifically, it helps 4th grade students apply science to their daily lives.
We are fortunate to have many families dedicated to our students and willing to share information about their careers and experiences in order to enhance our curriculum. Parents, families and friends are invited into classrooms to give educational and inspiring career talks. Students always enjoy receiving class visits from police officers, flight attendants, dentists, software engineers, fire fighters, postman etc. These professionals provide insight into different careers and spark interest levels. Generally we have approximately 100 volunteers per school year that share their professional experience with our students. Additionally, each grade level at Freedom takes part in Junior Achievement as part of their social studies curriculum. Young children learn about banking, money, and the important aspects of starting and running a business. Older students learn about different jobs in society and the aspects of the global marketplace. Fifth grade students take a field trip each year to “Biztown” where each child is given a “job,” and they spend the day learning what it is like to be a worker as well as a consumer. Our parent volunteers facilitate our Junior Achievement program and do an amazing job at inspiring the students to take what they are learning in class and apply it to our real world.
D5. How are resources made available to teachers and students for instruction, gathering information and sharing the results of their efforts?
Our Media Center is the hub of CTA Freedom. It is open to students and parents before school and during the school day. Students are able to visit the Media Center at any time during the day to check out a book, conduct research, or AR test. All students attend thirty minute lessons in the Media Center once every six days. Teachers can sign up to use the Media Center for their whole class during free periods. They also use streaming videos from the state of Arizona's IDEAL website in conjunction with lessons and other online research resources provided by the Arizona State Libraries to create powerful lessons. Utilizing on line resources allows us to free up money to purchase additional literature for children. Our Media Center system is automated making it available online for parent use. Students and teachers are trained how to use the software to search for literature. A professional reference Media Center is also available for staff and parents.
D6. What technology applications is the school using? How do they relate to the curricular goals, and how do they support teaching and learning?
Our students are given many opportunities to remain current with technology. They receive technology instruction and have access to our computer lab once every six days. Each classroom contains with two computers, an LCD projector, document camera, and slate which are used to develop interactive lessons. Additionally, we possess a digital video camera which allows us to record school events and projects. Also available for checkout are speakers for iPod/MP3's and DVD/Video players. Our wide range of technology provides students an outlet for their own creative ideas.
We utilize the Easiteach software and slates to enable students to interact with technology and allow teachers mobility in the classroom. Lessons are created and stored in grade level folders so that all teachers can access them. A Google teacher website was created to store links for teachers that they might find useful in the classroom and lesson planning.
In 3rd through 6th grades, the Accelerated Math program has been implemented. Students bubble in their answers to math problems and can immediately scan their work and receive results. This program's objectives are aligned to our Saxon math program and Arizona State Standards, and help teachers to identify student mastery or areas for re-teaching.
Our generous and supportive PTO purchased 2Know classroom responders during the 2009-2010 school year for our campus. The responders allow for increased student engagement with immediate feedback for both student and teacher. Currently our Media Center and 6th grade are piloting the program and are experiencing exciting results. Our PTO has committed to purchase additional responders which will enable our 5th grade classrooms access to this cutting edge technology.
E1. How is the curriculum developed, monitored, evaluated and improved at your school?
Our school has identified four lead teachers to participate on content area specific committees. These teachers, known as Cadre members, represent CTA Freedom in the areas of language arts, math, science and social studies at district curriculum planning days. Potential cadre members are interviewed and selected based on their background in the subject matter and interest in staying current in research. Cadre members are a liaison between the district and school site. Any changes in curriculum, at either district or site level, is communicated through them so that all teachers have a clear understanding of procedures and are able to get individual questions answered in a timely manner. Additionally, we are able to implement on campus trainings to better equip our teachers should any changes in curriculum develop. Cadre members work on textbook adoption, curriculum alignment, staff development, writing of benchmark questions, and the creation of teacher resources.
One example of a science cadre activity is lab articulation. This guarantees that an activity that fits well within the curriculum at one grade level is not repeated at other levels. The science cadre member also worked on creating website resources for every curriculum strand, for every grade level K-12. This saved teachers time when planning classroom activities, and helped integrate technology into instruction. Our math cadre member actively writes benchmark questions that incorporate Webb's Depth of Knowledge questioning strategies and levels. Our language arts cadre member helped complete a document showing how the Language Arts curriculum spirals from one grade level to the next. Our teacher collaboration opportunities were described in detail in section C2. By sharing ideas and strategies within and among grade levels, teachers and students have a clear expectation of desired outcomes.
E2. Provide a brief description of the curriculum across all grade levels for the following core content areas:
Language Arts and Reading
The Spalding program forms the core of our language arts program. Our program relies heavily on phonics based instruction and is implemented across grade levels to ensure common language. A full 100% of our classroom and special education teachers have been trained in the Spalding Method. Spalding focuses on the core instructional components of reading and provides explicit instruction in phonics and spelling. High frequency vocabulary is taught through the use of the Extended Ayers word list and the student generated Spalding notebooks.
Open Court is our anchor basal reading program and provides quality literature through which we develop and integrate all our language arts skills. Our basal reader is also supported through classroom use of literature studies. Reading Renaissance, which utilizes the Accelerated Reader program, is a guided independent reading program that is used daily. Teachers are able to monitor progress to ensure students are reading successfully both through reports and information online. HomeConnect is available to parents and enables them to view their student's progress online or through email reports. This allows parents to view books read, test results, and goal progress.
To enhance higher level thinking, CTA Freedom uses Thinking Maps to create and organize information. This program provides necessary skills needed in the planning and development of writing and projects in accordance with 21st century skills. 100% of our instructional staff is trained in thinking maps. This program utilizes the eight major thinking skills identified by David Hyerle in his book, Expand Your Thinking. They provide a common visual language for learning across disciplines and grade levels. Thinking processes covered include defining in context, describing qualities, comparing and contrasting, classifying, part to whole relationships, sequencing, cause and effect, and making analogies. This program helps students gather, focus, and organize information. Students are able to then apply learned knowledge independently to their own tasks.
In order to extend our use of Thinking Maps, we have trained 100% of our instructional staff in Write From the Beginning. Using the Write From the Beginning methods, teachers use mini lessons, modeling and rubrics to produce organized detailed writing. Thinking Maps and Write From the Beginning programs integrate smoothly with the nationally known Six Traits Writing program.
One innovative evaluation method used in writing is a quarterly writing day. Writing prompts are assigned to grades 3-6. All students complete the prompt in one sitting. Each quarter, a different genre is chosen for each grade level. Teachers then grade prompts, concentrating on two writing traits. Teacher scoring rotates each quarter so that student writing is graded across classrooms and grade levels. The next day, teachers conference with students giving them immediate feedback on their writing.
Our adopted program for math is Saxon. We also utilize Accelerated Math as a supplemental resource in 3rd-6th grades. As part of our traditional program we offer our students math at an accelerated level of one year ahead. Further details regarding our math program can be found in section E3.
Our science curriculum incorporates critical thinking and problem solving. Through labs conducted in individual units throughout the school year, students collaborate and participate in the inquiry process. This process requires students to discover the answers to questions rather than just being taught or told. Skills are best demonstrated during our school wide science fair. All grade levels participate by completing either a class or individual project. We are able to measure effectiveness year to year as we document retention and understanding of the scientific process. By the time students reach 6th grade, little time is needed to instruct students in the actual process of scientific inquiry and more time can be spent on designing and conducting the experiment as well as analyzing results. Science fair is one of our more popular evening events with not only immediate family attending, but extended family and friends as well. In the past we have invited science groups, such as Stargazing for Everyone from Glendale, Arizona, to come out and hold fun, yet highly educational workshops during our science fair and family picnic to connect classroom concepts to real world situations.
Social studies serve as an important link between classroom lessons and real world situations. The Pledge of Allegiance is recited daily in each classroom and all students participate monthly in a patriotic assembly either by video in the classroom or attending an assembly.
Classrooms utilize materials in different ways including long term projects and presentations with technology integration. Cross-curricular connections are made with reading and writing, integrations with math, and connections to science, such as scientists and how scientific discoveries and inventions impact history. During our Native American unit, 4th grade students create a custom Kachina Doll, with the assistance of classroom volunteers. Additionally 4th grade presents a Wax Museum for parents and students where each student researches and emulates a historical Arizonian. Ben Franklin makes an appearance each year to speak to our 5th graders. This educational historian dresses in period clothing and speaks to students about his life, inventions, and the development of our country. Additionally, in conjunction with our Junior Achievement Program, 5th graders participate in Biz Town, as referenced in section D. Our students benefit from our community partnerships with Southwest Airlines' Adopt a Pilot program and Wal-Mart's Trucker Buddy Program. Both of these programs support the development of geography skills. Our kindergarteners are able to take advantage of our local businesses with field trips to Basha's grocery and Schneff Farms. First grade completes a unit on Thanksgiving and pilgrims that integrates mathematics and writing through the use of timelines. They also write about and identify state symbols of Arizona.
In order to nurture students who are democratically responsible, we participate in a variety of activities that teach the value of having a voice. Kids Voting is taught school wide utilizing the online Kids Voting program and allows students to better understand the election process. Students are also exposed to the democratic process in the intermediate grades by campaigning in student council elections. Our Newspaper Club polls our students and staff on items relevant to our school and reports the results to our school community via their monthly “Falcon Tribune.”
The Pangrazzi method is used when teaching physical education at CTA Freedom. This method of PE generally divides the class into four sections: An Introduction Activity, a Fitness Development Activity, skill focus, and a game that involves their skill focus. We also focus on Sun Wise curriculum and nutrition. In addition to developing a healthy body, we also focus on sportsmanship and teamwork. Students end the year with field day by participating in a variety of activities and games like potato sack races, water relays, and tug of war. Our students participate in Jump Rope for Heart during the month of February to help raise awareness of heart disease. Funds raised are donated to the American Heart Association.
All students at CTA Freedom receive general music as part of our curriculum. Our goal is to provide tools for the students to become life-long learners who appreciate and understand all types of music with an open mind. Our students experience a wide variety of activities throughout the year. The Kodaly, Orff and Dalcroze methods are employed. The students' accomplishments are showcased for the parents in several evening events. 1st grade participates in Music Night where our students invite an adult partner to experience a music class. The purpose of the event is to introduce the methods used in music class so activities can be practiced at home. Students in 2nd and 3rd grade each present a concert with a theme from their standard curriculum. The third graders take a field trip to watch a live performance of Prokofiev's “Peter and the Wolf.” The experience of seeing and hearing the instruments reinforces the concept of listening to a larger piece of music and analyzing the elements of music heard. All subject areas are integrated whenever possible. A Chandler Education Association grant was awarded to develop learning centers for Native American music. The centers are used to support the 4th grade Social Studies curriculum. Literature is often incorporated into the lessons, and students are encouraged to use thinking maps, writing, and vocabulary in support of our school wide academic goal. To enhance our music program we offer band, orchestra and chorus to students in 3rd-6th grade. More information is giving about these programs in B2.
E3. Select one content area in E2 and one other unique program or curricular area to discuss in greater depth.
CTA Freedom uses the Saxon math program for all grade levels. Instruction occurs for 95% of students at one year ahead. We do have pockets of students who are able to complete math two years ahead, as well as those who need the reinforcement of on grade level concepts. The Saxon math program allows for continuous spiraling of previous concepts and helps to build a solid foundation for new concepts. Curriculum mapping to ensure alignment of standards is completed at each grade level. The major focus in the mathematics program at CTA Freedom is for students to be actively involved in developing problem solving skills as well as becoming confident thinkers in mathematics. Each teacher is a facilitator who bases their lessons on instruction that solicits higher level questioning with an emphasis on problem solving. Curriculum is constantly reviewed and revised according to the needs of the individual grade level, teacher and ultimately students.
Student achievement is crucial and must be tied to implementation of any resources used in the classrooms. Teachers are encouraged to continue their personal learning of math concepts and skills by participating in district classes such as discrete math or algebra and geometry. Technology is incorporated into a large part of our mathematics instruction. Lessons and websites are interactive for students to apply mathematics to real life situations. Formative assessments are used to guide instruction and to determine interventions for students not meeting the proficiency level. Teachers assist students through small group pullouts, in class-assistance, and individual tutoring when needed. Accelerated Math, referred to in Section D6, is used to collect data, drive instruction, and enhance the learning of both struggling students and those needing a challenge. Immediate feedback is available to students and teachers. 2Know Responders, discussed in section D6, are being used to collect data and give students immediate feedback in 6th grade.
Effectiveness of our mathematics program is monitored through our classroom assessment practices, district driven benchmark testing and AIMS. Some examples of best practices in mathematics are as follows: providing purpose and relevancy, using a variety of resources and materials to expand student comprehension, encouraging students to analyze and correct errors, ensuring that assessments given address higher level thinking, and focusing on problem-solving, application, and analysis rather than just rote memorization. Students are able to communicate their mathematical ideas to each other and can explain, either in writing or verbally, the different ways they reach their solutions and defend their choices logically. Written communication is incorporated into the math lesson by use of journals or other classroom activities. Real world applications are present and represent daily activities and technology. One example is our 6th grade cookbook project. Students provide three recipes, adapt the recipes as to increase servings (more people) thus manipulating the fractions. The culminating activity is to create a classroom cookbook to send home with students in the spring. One 6th grade teacher utilizes the Livescribe pen technology to record verbal notes from lessons and then posts them online for those students needing review or for students that were absent when the lesson was taught. Teachers have created resources for parents through links on our school website. Most of our grade levels have rewritten a majority of their Saxon math lessons to be used interactively with the Easiteach program, thus creating more visual support than just what is available in textbooks. Our mathematics program recognizes that the nature of mathematics is hierarchical and builds consistently from one grade to the next. While we diversify our math on a daily basis, we believe mathematics is not merely a sequence of unrelated concepts, but rather building blocks that are designed to connect and have relevance and meaning to the students and their application. Using the Saxon math program allows students to understand the concepts by providing specific explanations, examples with practice problems, and summarizing key points to the lesson. We are particularly proud of our success in the area of mathematics and the results on assessments are further explained in Section H.
Our student's love and knowledge of literature reflects the commitment of our principal, Media Specialist, staff and parents. Our Media Center circulation indicates the level of excitement for reading on our campus, averaging over 100,000 books checked out yearly--that's over 125 books per student per year! Our principal is committed to providing an aide during instruction enables us to have our Media Center accessible all day. Students have ample time to select a book of their choice as well as the ability to complete research in a timely manner. The Media Specialist is well versed in children's literature and strives to keep our collection current, even in times of tight or nonexistent funding. Through parent supported book fairs and a dedicated PTO, our Media Center has grown from 6,000 books in 2005 to over 21,000 books in 2011. Curriculum encompasses different literary genres, how to access the online databases and the online Media Center catalog and finding and evaluating information on the internet. Different types of media are used throughout interactive lessons, such as steaming video and audio.
Our Media Specialist is a certified teacher who assesses student learning and refines lessons according to student outcome. The Media Specialist sponsors several programs through the Media Center. Battle of the Books is a program for 5th and 6th grades. Students are invited to write questions and come in at lunch time to practice for each Battle. We have 18 teams participating this current school year, involving over 50 students. Over the past five years our Battle of the Books has had almost 250 participants. The Freedom Readers Book Club for 4th graders meets at lunch time to listen to and read a book that can be discussed together. Parent volunteer and student helpers help shelf books and assist students both on the computer and in finding books.
Using the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, we can validate the quantity and quality of student independent reading. All students in grades 1st - 6th participate in the AR program. Kindergarteners participate when they can read independently. Statistics show that students typically read 7 minutes per day. Our AR statistics tell us that our students read on average 43 minutes a day, well above the national average. Parents are kept informed on students' independent reading through the online HomeConnect program. Our average percent correct on tests for the last two years was 90%. This percentage supports the level of student success with their independent reading and reflects the commitment of teacher monitoring. We strive to place an emphasis on nonfiction texts through the AR program in addition to fiction which aligns with our Data Wise focus goal. We have two programs to recognize student academic achievement. Ongoing, we award Accelerated Reader Certificates. These certificates are tracked by the computer and awarded based on students reading more difficult texts (readability), longer books (more words/points) and reading them successfully (score above 80% on test). Over 2,000 certificates were given out in 2009/2010. The Million Word Ceremony is our end of year celebration. Last year, our school read over 517 million words. Over 190 students read over one million words. Of those students, 31 students read 2 million words, 20 students read 3 million words, three students read 4 million words and one student read 5 million words. Currently, we have one student who has already read over 6 million words.
E4. How does the school ensure that all students, including learners with unique needs, have the opportunity to learn challenging content and achieve at high levels?
Each year, class placements include identification of student abilities and clustering of similar skills or services in order to provide more focused support for each student. Inclusion classrooms have their schedule developed first in order to coordinate support into the classroom environments. Specials are scheduled to allow each grade level large blocks of uninterrupted instructional time. Grade levels and administration meet to discuss groups of academic needs such as students needing on grade level or two years ahead in math or those needing RTI interventions. Daily schedules are adapted to ensure time coordinates with services needed. We also have a Reading Intervention Specialist who sees students twice a week for extra assistance in remedial reading skills. Our gifted and English Language Learners have individual learning plans developed which are implemented by classroom teachers. We utilize Lindamood Bell and Edmark curriculum with our special education students to offer additional strategies and support that will result in the development of memory processing and retention of foundational skills. Our site also offers tutoring, Accelerated Math, and classroom progress monitoring for remediation in content areas.
E5. What requirements must be satisfied before a student is promoted to the next grade level of schooling?
Retention and Promotion policies are adopted district wide. All staff review policies the first week back each school year. When reviewing a student's progress, any child at risk for retention receives quarterly notices and meetings with the parent. The focus each quarter is on responsibilities for teachers, students and parents in the process of intervention. The list of students each teacher is meeting with is reviewed with the principal. Resources used for remediation are documented and students may be referred for further help to our Teacher Assistance Team (TAT). If a student continues to show inadequate progress, they are referred for Special Education testing to identify any possible learning disabilities. If satisfactory progress towards grade level standards has not been met by the fourth quarter, the principal and teacher will meet with the parents recommending retention.
F. Leadership roles on campus
F1. Describe the leadership structure, roles and functions that are important at the school and tell why.
Our site utilizes a shared leadership style. The administrator on site leads staff development opportunities, participates in ongoing learning activities, models effective teaching strategies, evaluates instruction, develops school goals, facilitates collaboration and sets the tone for our campus. She currently has over 24 years experience in education with the last six years occurring here at CTA Freedom. Our principal is visible on campus, runs assemblies, attends extra curricular activities and completes duties before, during and after school. On a regular basis she can be found serving lunch, directing traffic at pick up, reading with students in her office, in classrooms, or on the playground supervising duty. Our success is a direct result of her leadership.
The Site Council addresses school improvement and safety issues. Parents are elected by our parent community; teachers are selected by our principal to represent different grade levels or departments. Each member is on a rotating two year membership. Recent major projects and topics of discussion include, uniform swap, tax credit allocations, development of parent and student surveys, and support of a new health awareness curriculum.
Grade level chairs are responsible for curriculum information and implementation at a team level. They document team meetings and planning topics. They help maintain consistency among grade levels and within our school. Grade level chairs represent each grade level and special area. Teachers apply for this position and are chosen by administration. Our Data Wise Team consists of the principal and seven teachers. Teachers apply for this committee and are chosen for by administrator. They cannot be both Grade Chair and Data Wise in order to ensure that all teachers have opportunity for leadership positions. They participate in district trainings and then bring information back to campus and facilitate the training of the rest of the staff. This committee leads monthly staff meetings on topics related to the process of data analysis. School improvement and common goals are identified as well as staff development needs. Modeling of strategies and monitoring of implementation occurs regularly.
The Response To Intervention Team leads quarterly assessments and progress monitoring. Each grade level has a member on this team to be the point of contact for this assessment/intervention piece. They track data school wide. Other minor committees such as Character Counts and Thinking Maps are responsible for staff development trainings throughout the school year.
F2. How is the school improvement process organized and managed to ensure the school is always moving forward?
Our school improvement process is focused around Data Wise. Our staff looks at multiple sources of data to identify specific areas in need of improvement. A learner centered problem and problem of practice is identified as a school. An action plan and assessment plan are created. This is a year long process and involves collaboration, staff development, and data analysis. All content areas participate in this focus. Our target area this year involved vocabulary strategies and informational text. You will find it a focus as you enter each classroom on campus. Students and teachers are able to articulate our target area and strategies they are using to improve. Our students have been raising their vocabulary achievement by 5% each quarter.
F3. How does leadership engage staff, teachers, student, parents, and community in decision making?
Our staff, as stakeholder's, participate actively improvement process. They are involved in decision making that will focus the direction of academic and improvement plans for the school year. Our Site Council reviews our progress and makes suggestions related to the steps we have outlined. We communicate our progress to both parents and students. We also have visual reminders around our school with our goals in mind related to both academic and character focuses. For this current school year you will find them present in vocabulary and B212. On going curriculum improvement discussions at grade level meeting and staff meetings allow for reflection and feedback after implementing staff development or action plans.
F4. How does school leadership model the use of 21st century tools and applications in the roles of principal, manager, teacher leaders and staff leaders?
We find the use of technology to be a valuable asset for our teachers and staff. Not only do we use general email as a way to communicate with one anther, we have a common folder that all teachers can share and that committees utilize to keep forms and data available to all. Our TAT interventions are kept online and documented with graphing templates for teachers to document progress. We utilize our assessment data software to track benchmarks and AIMS results as well as AZELLA so that all student data is in one place. In addition, we use STAR, STAR Early Literacy, and DIBELS to add another dimension to the data available for teachers to review. Teachers are able to pull up data in written or graphical form. Our data software allows us to maintain student, classroom and school wide data at the push of a button. Our principal reviews grading practices, classroom and student progress through on-line sources, and meets with grade levels and/or students to provide guidance as interventions or re-teaching occurs.
With so many families having constant access to email and the internet via smartphones and portable devices, we have adapted our school wide communication to better serve our clientele. Any communication that is generated by our staff, teachers or PTO is sent home via an email for instant communication. Additionally, we update our website as needed in order to remain current. It is our desire to have our parents access our website for any and all information as a first line of communication. Our website has a comprehensive homework resource page for our parents and students to access when assistance is needed. This tool was developed by a talented group of teachers that maintain the information and keep it up to date. Additionally, all of our teachers have a webpage on our main website. Many teachers use this page as a tool for communicating important classroom information, upcoming events, homework for absent students and fun facts about themselves. When parents register on our website they have the option to receive an alert by RSS feed or email when a change is made to the area they have selected. This feature gives our parents the ability to be fully aware of updates.
F5. How is a long-range Strategic Plan developed and how does it drive and target school improvement efforts?
Our school applied for and was accepted to be a part of the district training involving the Data Wise process. This was a school wide commitment by our staff to work towards the improvement of our instruction with a goal of increased achievement of our students. A long range strategic plan was developed with input from all stakeholders on campus through the use of data analysis. Quarterly benchmarks, AIMS scores, classroom assessment and student work were considered and utilized in the development of the plan. The process has resulted in an increase in involvement by all staff and awareness of the value of data as a tool to in drive instructional change. We have seen an increase in student achievement for the area we have focused on this year and frequent use of new skills demonstrated by staff and students. The teachers have also increased their use of student work as a measurement of progress in the classroom. The staff has the opportunity to observe “best practices” of their peers as well as receive feedback on strategies they have implemented into their instruction. Our school improvement plan can be adjusted as skills are mastered and other deficits identified. In our school, you will find an increase in specific vocabulary instruction as well as word walls, student dictionaries and assignments that focus on application of vocabulary. Our strategic plan is supported through monthly trainings devoted to our focus area. New strategies are taught, and staff have the opportunity to share strategies that they have developed among their teams. The common goal has united our school in the improvement process and created a manageable way to understand and utilize data in their daily teaching to increase student achievement.
G. School, Family and Community Partners
G1. What community collaborative alliances and partnerships are in place at your school? How do these relationships result in the school being a respected and valued partner?
Community partners are a valuable and vital asset to the direct success of our school and its students. They also support our mission of developing citizenship skills and maintaining a rigorous academic environment. Support from parents, families, businesses, and corporations not only enhance our student's classroom education but instills in them the value of giving back to the community. It is the goal of CTA Freedom to create viable partnerships with not only local businesses, but families, in order to best support the education of our student population.
As a school community we are thankful for our community partners and their willingness to support our students. Through our various reward programs, PTO fundraisers, professional presentations, employee giving campaigns, and generous donations we have joined together with over 150 businesses per school year. Some of our most active partnerships are with Sonic Drive Thru, Papa Johns, Phoenix Children's Hospital, City of Chandler, Rotary International, Gilbert and Chandler Fire, Haley Heart Center, Intel, and Pepsi Corporation. These partnerships have resulted in improvements to our facility, funding for supplements to our curriculum, fields trips, and classroom presentations. Our partnership with Rotary International works to provide a dictionary for each 3rd grade student in our school. This donation encourages our students love for language arts and makes a lasting impression on them.
It is the priority of our PTO to enhance and support the students, teachers and staff in any and every way possible that is not provided by the school district itself. Our PTO, although volunteers, are as committed as our staff to the success of our school. Annually they hold our largest fundraiser of the year, Frontier Day. This event is successful due to the dedication of our parent volunteers, Freedom staff, committee members and community partners. This event is attended by over three thousand people and is something to look forward to each year.
From medical professionals to national philanthropic organizations like Rotary International our students have learned that giving of your time is a trait to emulate.
G2. How does your school involve all families in their children's education and student support programs?
As with any relationship, communication between families and our school is essential for success. We make every effort communicate important information with our families with our weekly newsletters, website and paper information sent home. Students are also given weekly progress reports on Friday's in order for parents to track their students' grades. Teachers and administration are available by phone, email, before and after school for parent meetings, and for evening conferences in order to accommodate varying schedules. It is our goal to always be available to parents when they would like to hear from us.
CTA Freedom has a parent community that is unparalleled. Our parent workroom is always bustling with volunteers. It is asked that every Freedom family give five volunteer hours per year, but families quickly exceed their five hours and continue to help without hesitation. As the economic tides have turned in our community the increase in dual income families has grown. Even with this reality, our volunteerism is still strong. Teachers supply necessary tools and training for their volunteers so they are equipped to help effortlessly. Volunteers are arranged through newsletters, classroom calendars, Volunteer Spot website, and beginning of the year interest sheets. Parents have multiple opportunities to use their talents at CTA Freedom. Whether it be helping in the class or serving on one of our various committees there is a place for everyone! A few of the places where parents can be effective are on our PTO board and committees, Dad's Club board, Frontier Day representatives, Media Center helpers, Scholastic Book Fair volunteers, Junior Achievement Presenters, Site Council members, field trip chaperones, and yearbook editors and Art Masterpiece volunteers. Simply saying thank you is never enough for those dedicated to our school. We close each year with a Volunteer Recognition Breakfast hosted by our staff to honor those who have donated their time and talents to the betterment of our school.
G3. How does your school welcome and respect families from all walks of life, solicit and value their input, and find multiple ways to invite and involve them in school initiatives to build a shared commitment to student success?
We are a school community that prides itself in involving not just the student but the entire family in the education process. Parents become familiar with our school environment first through our school tour. There are many opportunities throughout the year to attend PTO, Dad's Club and Site Council Meetings to stay aware of what is happening and to have their voice be heard. These groups exist to better our school environment and support student learning. Parents can also participate in trainings in order to learn more about our curriculum. Annually our Site Council administers a school wide survey to solicit parent's opinion on every aspect of our campus culture. This feedback is complied, shared with our school community and, if necessary, changes are made to better our environment.
Information is about our school is shared weekly via grade level and school wide newsletters electronically delivered to families. They are also available on our school website. Our marquee is kept current on a weekly basis with important dates and news. Our lobby is a resource where flyers, letters and policies are available. Our involvement with the Parent Information Recourse Center (PIRC) increases our ability to meet the needs of all our families.
G4. How are educational resources in the school and the community used to extend learning opportunities for students, teachers, and families?
We strive to develop curriculum connections with our community. Our teachers make every effort to connect their lessons with local opportunities when possible. As an extension of their social studies unit on the Native American culture, American cowboys, and the early settlement of the West, our 4th graders take a field trip to the Basha Art Gallery in Chandler. In class, the students study and learn about these topics in depth, and they also participate in several Art Masterpiece lessons that feature well known Arizona artists that are represented in the gallery. At the gallery, students see works by the artists they studied in Art Masterpiece, which include cowboy artist Howard Terpning, cowboy artist Bill Owen, and Navajo artist Baje Whitethorn. For many students, this is their first experience at an art gallery. Additionally 4th grade has the Arizona Game and Fish Department educational outreach programs come and give a presentation about animals native to the Arizona desert. Students have the opportunity to put the knowledge they gained in our classroom lessons to work as they engage in lively discussions with the Game and Fish employees. Our Media Specialist has invited public libraries to present their summer reading programs to our students at the end of each year, encouraging students to use the public libraries and keep reading over the summer. Programs such as “Read with a Cheerleader,” are promoted and encouraged by our Media Specialist. The community has access to rent any part of our facility through our Community Education Department. In addition to our before and after school programs, we have local Homeowners Associations and Life Link Church that rent our facility on a regular basis.
H. Indicators of Success
H1. Describe your school's balanced assessment system and approach that includes high quality summative, benchmark and formative classroom assessments used to improve teaching and learning.
The Data Wise process facilitates our use of data to drive instructional changes and raise student achievement in our rigorous academic environment. It has allowed us to have ongoing open communication and dialog regarding classroom, district, and state assessments. We have school target areas and grade level specific goals. This year's focus relates to functional text and the use of vocabulary strategies within that area. All data is easily accessible and meant to be used to support daily instruction and school improvement in the acquisition of these skills. Specific details on data are below in section H2.
H2. What evidence do you regularly collect and analyze to judge the effectiveness of your school?
We are pleased to be recognized for the highest Measurable Annual Progress (MAP) score as measurable by AIMS in Chandler Unified School District for the past two years. This supports our goal to show maximum growth with all students. Data is available in classrooms through student work and also through our Assessment Management for Instruction (AMI) system which enables teachers to instantly pull up student data in the areas of language arts, reading, math and English language. Teachers have access to benchmarks, AIMS, AZELLA, Renaissance STAR reading, Renaissance STAR EARLY LITERACY, and DIBELS. The data may be pulled up by individual students, classrooms, grade levels and campus wide. We use information from our data sources to re-teach skills, increase mastery, and challenge students. It is also used in lesson design, to target skills in tutoring, and in our Response to Intervention (RTI) tier strategies. Teachers utilize alternative assessments on science fair projects, writing portfolios, research projects, and science journals. These areas are measured through rubrics developed by both teachers and students.
CTA Freedom is proud to stand on their history of excelling academic achievement. Our scores on the AIMS and SAT 10/Terra Nova consistently remain among the highest in the east valley and rank among the top 5-19 percent among schools with similar Socioeconomic status, (SES) depending on the subject area. Any drops in scores are consistent with statewide trends over the past five years and are limited in nature. Our average percentage of students in the meets and exceeds categories in 3rd-6th grades for 2005-2010 are as follows: Reading: 92%, Math: 95%, Writing: 92% and Science: 91%. On average, more than 55% of students scored in the Exceeds category in math over the past five years. Our data in 2010 shows that 56-69 % of our special education students met or exceeded on AIMS in each of the three major categories. We also averaged 9.5% or fewer of our Special Education students scoring in the Falls Far Below categories. Our SES students have been very successful as well. Last year, they averaged anywhere from 50-100% in the combined areas of Meets and Exceeds in Reading, Writing and Math at each grade level. In 2010, our SES students had only one subtest, 6th grade Math, where students fell into the Falls Far Below category. All other subtests had zero percent for Falls Far Below. No students were excluded from the AIMS or TerraNova/STA 10 tests.
H3. What are the data for the past five years that serve as quantitative indicators of improved school climate and engagement?
We are full of pride when one of our own students or staff is recognized for their hard work and achievements. As a campus, we have had the honor of receiving many awards. We are pleased to share a sampling of the awards we have received: ten students recognized for citizenship through district awards, two winners in the AZ Tobacco Education poster contest, two winners for the AZ Preparedness contest for health and safety, multiple winners for the AZ Conservation poster contest through City of Chandler, multiple winners of citizenship award through Town of Gilbert, three winners of City of Chandler Creative Expression contest, one student won the Letters about Literature a statewide contest for grade 4th-6th , and two winners of the ELL Success Stories at the annual Office of English Language Acquisition Services (OELAS) conference.
We have applied for and received the following grants: Olweus Bullying, Wells Fargo grant -Stability Balls for classroom use, Chandler Education Foundation mini grants for Native American Unit for Music, Butterfly unit for 2nd grade, Life Cycle characteristics for Organisms for First Grade, Health Nutrition and the Body for Kindergarten, Delta Education science grant to Kindergarten and Pepsi Refresh Grant for landscaping.
Our Site Council and District help facilitate parent and student surveys that are used to identify satisfaction with our services and curriculum offered. We have also participated in the Parent Information Resource Center's (PIRC) parent friendly walk through. Survey results are reviewed by our Site Council to support school improvement goals.
Achievement: Excelling Label – 2006, 2007,2008,2009,2010 since school opened.
H4. Data Collection
I1. Reflecting on the last five years, what major challenges have been addressed? How have they been resolved? What subsequent changes have contributed most to the overall success of the school?
Our school had many challenges that had to be met when we first opened our doors. The first month of school, we had no phone lines or access to technology because our school year started before QWEST had built lines into our neighborhood. We had to utilize paper attendance and travel to a neighboring school to enter it into our attendance system as well as coordinate all phone calls to and from the school through the principal's cell phone. We also had over 500 students entering our school who had never worked above grade level in mathematics. The first year our staff spent many hours developing remedial lessons, offering tutoring, scheduling ability groups according to skill mastery, and training parents in how to help their child with math at home. We resolved this our second year by changing to a math curriculum that spirals and allows teachers to provide seamless transitions and meet the specific needs of students new to our program. We continue to assess skill mastery and offer parent trainings in order to prevent those problems from occurring again. Growth was another challenge to be faced. We doubled the size of our school within the first five years. Each year, we range between 250-300 students on a waiting list for open enrollment requests into our program. We have had to add an additional building and portable out on our playground. Every space is occupied for instruction. We also worked with our district to develop a traditional track at a neighboring school in order to alleviate our waiting list and ensure parents are satisfied.
I2. What are the major educational challenges the school must face over the next five years, and how does the school plan to address them? Outline how you will develop an agenda for action based on relevant information and data.
In planning for the next five years, we anticipate the following challenges: maintaining our excellence in academics while ensuring that each child exhibits maximum growth; adjusting our curriculum support to ensure that resources are available for those students struggling with reading prior to 3rd grade as the new retention bill comes into effect; continuing to maintain our facility as our population continues to grow and funding is reduced. Our site has already started on strategies that will address these areas. Our Data Wise is an ongoing process in which we will continue to self assess our effectiveness in the classroom and how student achievement can be improved. Our school will continue the process to identify learner centered problems and action plans that are feasible and measureable. We start small in the process in order to make it manageable and create change that will impact our students in the classroom. Our goal is to find the relevant data that will create change.
We have already started our process of developing Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies that will assist students in mastery of foundational reading skills. Our staff development has maintained a focus in that area, and we are increasing both our formal and informal support for our students K-3rd. Teachers play active part in this process as they help identify needs and possible solutions in this area.
In order to maintain a safe, stimulating, and attractive environment for our community, we continue to seek out creative ways to fund changes or updates to our facility. We are pursuing community partners that can donate items or services needed, continuing to partner with a local church who rents our building, and applying for grants both locally and federally that may supplement our needs both academically and physically. All of our school improvement or action plans will be developed by our community, Site Council, and staff to ensure that all stakeholders are able to participate.