—by Todd Thorson

This week we take a look at the Roland-Story Middle School report, as presented by Principal John Sheahan at the June school board meeting. Last school year (2012-13) saw the new technology roll out affect the middle school in Roland as well. A regular feature at the 5-8 grade level was the monthly Norse Code assemblies that where held. Middle school benchmarking and MAPS testing was also implemented in September. The benchmarking continued in January and April.

The Roland-Story Middle School stayed very busy with plenty of activities and events last year. Parent’s Night, 5th grade Band Night, fall, winter and spring band and vocal concerts, 7-8 sports activities and also the DARE program and Science Fair were held. the OPUS and Central Iowa Honor Choir concerts were held in November and March, respectively. And another Honor Choir event was held at Iowa State University in April. DARE Day at the Wallace Building in Des Moines in April involved many of Iowa’s fifth grade students.

Summer projects at the middle school included a new flag pole area outside the main office. Upon construction of the new structure, the old cornerstone was found to have housed a time capsule dating back to 1989. The school also built a new retaining wall on the grounds.

Goals and Results

The R-S Middle School had hoped to narrow the gap in reading, math and science between the socioeconomic status students’ standard scores and the non-socioecnomic status students’ scores in grades 5-8. But, unfortunately, that goal was not met. However, there was improvement shown in the areas of math and reading among the 8th grade students.

Grades 5-8 achieved their goal of 93 percent or better in the Positive Behavior Intervention Supports CORE Group. This achievement showed that 93 percent or better of the middle school students had only 0-2 office referrals for the entire year.

"We ended up at 93.29 percent," said Principal Sheahan, "thus achieving our goal. We also were very excited about the over 18,000 Norse Notes earned by students. Our Norse Code assemblies featured local speakers and student-planned events that addressed the topics of caring, respect and responsibility."

Goal #3 for 2012-13 was to increse the percent of students scoring in the high proficient group on the Iowa Assessments in math, reading and science for grades 5-8. And, according to Sheahan, the middle school achieved that goal only in reading.

Sheahan also presented goals for the 2013-14 school year. The middle school center will continue to build on their proficiency in math, reading and science. "We are going to accomplish this via quality instruction and engagement strategies, along with continuing our RtI (Response to Intervention) in reading," he said.

Plans call to once again achieve 93 percent or better in the Positive Behavior Core Group, meaning students will once again have 0-2 office referrals for the 2013-14 school year. Also, the number of suspensions for this coming school year will hopefully decline as well, from those recorded in 2012-13.

"We will accomplish this by updating and reviewing lesson plans and our Positive Reinforcement System," added Sheahan.

Sheahan would also like to increase the percent of students scoring in the advanced proficient group of the Iowa Assessment in reading in grades 5-8. "We are going to accomplish this via quality instruction and engagement strategies, along with continuing our RtI reading," he remarked.

Professionally, the Roland-Story Middle School worked hard with training in regard to the technology rollout that was initiated last year. Staff members were equipmed with new strategies and tools that they used to enhance the 1:1 iPad initiative.

"Having the privilege of seeing staff in the classroom, it was invigorating to observe the various ways teachers and students were using the technoloogy provided to them," Sheahan commented.

This year, for 2013-14, Sheahan wants to see more progress made in the middle school’s overall goals. "We are not satisfied with where we are," he said. "We want students to achieve at a greater level than last year. We feel the quality instruction and engagement strategies that will be presented will invigorate our instruction in the classroom. We also want to spruce up our RtI strategies and programming for behavior and reading."

(Next week, the Herald will present the Roland-Story High School’s review of 2012-13 and the outlook for this school year.)