Sep 14, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterThe Fremont County School District 38 community celebrated student achievement on the state's Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students with an open house Aug. 28, feast and powwow at Arapahoe School.
"The students made some fantastic gains," Arapahoe Elementary School principal Victoria Sherman said. "We wanted to celebrate with the children."
PAWS is an annual state assessment measuring reading and math in grades 3-8 and 11. In Arapahoe, all but one grade unit earned higher PAWS scores in math last year, according to the Wyoming Department of Education, and every grade level showed improved performance on the PAWS reading section.
Reading performance was a focus in Arapahoe last year, with the WDE collaborating with district administrators and teachers to provide one-on-one reading comprehension lessons for struggling students. The effort produced notable improvement, WDE instructional leader Sheryl Lain said.
"When we reached the end of the year, the assessment showed that the students had (improved by) two years," Lain said. "It worked out so well."
For example, a cohort of third-graders who were tested at 18 percent proficiency in 2011 had improved to more than 58 percent proficiency by the time they were tested again in fourth grade in 2012.
"All other grades improved significantly as well," Lain said.
District 38 Superintendent Jonathan Braack said fifth-graders saw 30 percent improvement over their previous year, and sixth-graders gained almost 31 percent in reading.
"Grades four through eight gained an average of 19 percentage points in reading for the 2011-2012 school year," Braack said. "They needed to be rewarded for their hard work."
Students spent half of the school day Tuesday outside of their classrooms, playing games, dancing and bouncing around in an inflatable toy house on the lawn. At the entrance to the school, eighth-graders Auburn Bell and Dani Spotted Elk waited to get their faces painted with Arapahoe Falcon colors after they finished playing pool and watching television in the recreation room across campus.
"This is awesome," Bell said of the half-day.
Fourth-graders in Michaela Dabich's class enjoyed the festivities as well, impressing their teacher with their abilities at the bubble-making station. Other students showed off their dance moves on a Nintendo Wii, prompting State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill to join in for a song.
Hill attended the event Tuesday along with other representatives from the WDE.
"I did some dancing with the kids," she said. "It's always the best thing to celebrate -- the kids and their progress."
In the evening, families returned to the school for a community feast and powwow. Sherman said administrators encouraged parent participation in the celebration so as many people as possible would be aware of the Arapahoe students' success.
"We wanted the community to know how happy we were and proud of the kids," Sherman said.
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