CV presents report card throughout district

While the Central Valley School District is unveiling its second annual district report card, many of its schools are receiving attention for the programs they offer students.

Superintendent Ben Small is leading several Community Connection events to discuss the report card. On Tuesday, Small joined business leaders, school board members and community members at Chester Elementary School.

He said this year the district is focusing on readiness for both career and college.

“Elementary school is very much about career and college readiness,” he said.

Small said for a long time, schools would separate the two ideas, but when he talks to parents with children in college, they all say the same thing: “I hope they have a career when they get out (of college).”

The district now puts the two together, he said, by preparing students for a two- or four-year college or an apprenticeship somewhere. He noted the founding of Spokane Valley Tech will help students find internships to see if they will enjoy a career in that field.

He also noted improvements in math and science in grade school. He talked about reading scores, too, but said there are more factors that contribute to a student’s education.

“We don’t believe that assessment is the only way we’re measured in the Central Valley School District,” he said. He talked about students involved in after-school activities, students involved in Advanced Placement classes and students who go on to two- or four-year college programs.

Principal Cindy Sothen talked a little about Chester – it opened in the fall of 1974 and hasn’t been remodeled since. The open-concept school has very few walls and only two classrooms with doors. There are 32 certificated staff members, 21 classified staff and 352 students in the K-5 school.

In 2008, Chester received a grant from Lowe’s to build its own garden. Sothen said the school has received lots of support with this from parents, community members and Washington State University Master Gardeners. There are plots for each grade level, and she said teachers use the garden to teach reading, math and art.

In the 2005-’06 school year, the school set a goal of raising its science scores in the Measurements of Student Progress test to 84 percent meeting standards by 2012-’13. She said the scores were “less than stellar” to start. In 2005-’06, 67.9 percent were meeting standards. During the 2011-’12 school year that score had increased to 96.4 percent.

“Clearly our staff is working to improve our science scores,” she said.

Students in Annette Lamon’s fifth-grade class led visitors in an experiment which asked whether the temperature of water would affect the rate an M&M dissolves.

Lamon said the kids remained engaged in the project because it was hands-on. They were seeing the results. After the experiment, they brainstormed ideas.

Small will conduct several more Community Connections meetings in the coming weeks, all at different schools, from the Early Learning Center to the high school level.

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