School News

News for Marion Community Schools

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Marion Community Schools is excited to announce that it has received a three-year grant worth just under $2 million to fund improvement initiatives at Allen Elementary School.

The Indiana Department of Education awarded this 1003(g) school improvement grant, which directs federal funds to specific high-priority schools in the state to fund significant interventions.

The list of high-priority schools is lengthy, the application process is rigorous, and the pool of available funds is limited, so MCS is thrilled to have earned a grant that will fuel continuing improvements at Allen Elementary School.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Marion Community Schools, our students, and our community,” Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “This grant will help advance our mission to provide a welcoming, inspiring, and productive place where our students can seize the opportunity to learn and enjoy the experience of learning well. This is a blessing that we will maximize!”

Here’s a look at some of what this grant will fund at Allen in the next three school years:
  • New staff positions: a second assistant principal, a parent involvement coordinator for the district, and a guidance counselor.
  • A partnership with EdisonLearning, a well-known and well-respected school improvement leader.
  • Funding for teacher development through The TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement.
  • Technology improvements including dozens of new iPads to be used in the classrooms, as well as large interactive digital touch boards for every classroom in the building.
  • Instructional supplies and other materials for the classroom and for school-sponsored parent events.
“This is a giant win for Allen Elementary,” Lindsay said, “but it’s also a win for Marion Community Schools and for the community of Marion. What we learn in this transformation at Allen will impact teaching and learning at all of our other schools, as well.”

One of the required elements of the state DOE’s Transformation Model, which is the improvement strategy MCS has proposed to use at Allen Elementary School, is to promote the use of data to inform and differentiate instruction. The partnership with EdisonLearning is integral in this effort.

EdisonLearning’s eValuate Student Benchmark System helps diagnose trouble spots for individual students, which allows the school to tailor and target instruction for that student. The eValuate System then helps track individual students’ progress, allowing for immediate strategy adjustments to continually meet the students’ needs and help them fulfill their potential.

A previous school improvement grant funded a fruitful EdisonLearning partnership at Justice Intermediate School in the 2012-13 school year. MCS is happy to be able to expand this valuable relationship, and the administrative and assessment support that EdisonLearning provides.

Another element of the Transformation Model is new leadership at the school involved. At Allen Elementary School, after a year helmed by an interim principal, Anthony Williams will be taking over as principal in the 2013-14 school year. Williams most recently served as assistant principal at Justice Intermediate School, so he is already well-versed in EdisonLearning’s programs, and specifically the eValuate System.

At Justice, Williams said, eValuate helped students take ownership of their assessment data - and of their progress. Though at Allen it will be younger students involved, the eValuate assessments will still help students (and their parents) see month-to-month progress, or lack thereof.

“With eValuate, we can allow students to challenge themselves, set goals for themselves, then work harder to reach those goals,” Williams said.

The resources the grant provides, he said, are key.

“We can connect these resources - and they’re not just financial - back to how they directly impact student achievement,” he said.

Marion Community Schools is grateful for this school improvement grant and is confident that it will help propel Allen Elementary School to great things – and provide tremendous opportunities for learning and growth for our students!
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
From the Chronicle-Tribune

As parents and students begin to plan for the start of the 2013-14 school year, a select group of learners are getting a head start on the next step in their education.

Among the usual slate of remediation and credit recovery to help students catch up over the summer, Grant County school districts are offering an increasing amount of opportunities for students to work ahead.

This summer was the first for Marion Community Schools’ advanced credit program, which offers high school students a chance to get basic courses including English 9, algebra and geometry done sooner, said Director of Communications Patricia Gibson.

“The new offerings this year for advanced credits for incoming freshmen are building on our effort to start, even in junior high, to have a concrete program for students to begin their path to college,” Gibson said.

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Marion Community Schools’ overall 2013 IREAD-3 passage rate is up over the previous year, after summer remediation helped more than two dozen additional third-graders pass the state-mandated test that clears the way for them to advance to the fourth grade.
According to state law, third grade students must demonstrate reading proficiency — by way of passing the IREAD-3 (which is separate from the ISTEP+ test) — before moving on to fourth grade. (There are certain exemptions available in special circumstances. See the state Department of Education’s IREAD website, for more information. Many of the MCS students who still have not passed IREAD-3 this year will likely be eligible for exemptions.)
This summer, MCS used an intensive intervention strategy, making use of READ 180 and System 44 assessments to diagnose specific trouble spots for students who had not passed the test during the first round of testing in the spring and target instruction to their needs.
District-wide, 86 percent of students passed IREAD-3, up from 78 percent in the spring. The final total passage rate is also up from the total rate after summer 2012, which was 83 percent.
The rates are as follows: 
  • MCS: spring+summer 2013 = 86 percent (up from 78 percent in spring); spring+summer 2012 = 83 percent
  • Allen Elementary: spring+summer 2013 = 88 percent (up from 75 percent in spring); spring+summer 2012 = 74
  • Frances Slocum Elementary: spring+summer 2013 = 85 percent (up from 70 percent in spring); spring+summer 2012 = 74
  • Kendall Elementary: spring+summer 2013 = 77 percent (up from 75 percent in spring); spring+summer 2012 = 88 percent
  • Riverview Elementary: spring+summer 2013 = 96 percent (up from 92 percent in spring); spring+summer 2012 = 89 percent 
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
From the Chronicle-Tribune

Local families will receive a chance to swap school clothes at Marion Community Schools’ fifth annual dress code compliant clothing (DCC) swap this month.

“It’s to provide a means for families to get school uniforms for no cost,” said Patty Barney, executive assistant to the superintendent and swap organizer. “Last year we had 620 items of clothing swapped. … It serves a group of people that need the help.”

— More from MCS on this story: To learn more about the DCC swap, click here. —
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
From the Chronicle-Tribune

Marion Community Schools is set to cut its educational assistants below 30 hours per week this fall.

The Board of School Trustees approved Wednesday involuntary cuts from as many as 35 hours per week to 27.5 for 31 employees. One employee voluntarily changed from 32.5 hours to 15 hours per week.

Marion is the latest school district to approve work time reductions in response to a looming provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide an opportunity for health insurance to all staffers who work 30 or more hours weekly.

That provision was delayed last week from Jan. 1, 2014, to that date in 2015, but McWhirt said Marion’s change will go into effect Aug. 13 regardless.

“We feel like it’s a good thing for the corporation,” McWhirt said of the shift.

Marion will deal with the reductions, McWhirt said, by hiring more assistants to work fewer hours each. Other districts, including Eastbrook Community Schools and Madison-Grant United Schools, have opted to provide raises to the affected employees and cope with fewer total assistant hours.

— More from MCS on this story: To read the minutes of this board meeting, click here. —