• Dear Parents,

    The start of school is always a busy time, where we are all working to get back into a routine, figuring out what is working, what’s not, and adjusting to ensure we’re doing what is best for our students. The first month of this school year has been a really smooth start to the year and I attribute that to our students, parents and our staff for their efforts to focus on what’s important, which is creating a safe and welcoming place for our students and a focus on learning. Included in this newsletter are some tips for supporting students at home. I recommend taking a quick read of the “Helpful Advice to Support Students at Home.” Using these suggestions on a consistent basis will help establish routines and habits that support student success. 
    I want to take a moment to highlight last year’s fifth grade students and their success this past spring with their achievement in the English Language Arts State Assessment. When looking at cohort data, which is the same students from third to fifth grade, 76% of our white students and 71% of our Hispanic students had a passing score on this assessment. If you look at the graph below, you will see the gains made by this group of students from third grade up to fifth grade with the state assessment. You will see the gap between our white and Hispanic students closing to where there’s only a five percent difference between the two at fifth grade, which is really impressive. It goes to show that if we focus on the right things, such as improving school attendance, building relationships with our students and families, all the while improving our instruction and interventions in literacy, we will make a positive impact and close the achievement gap as indicated in our state assessment data. Literacy is a huge indicator for student success and we’re very proud of our student achievement gains.
    At our Open House a few weeks back, information was shared in the library about the importance of students attending school on a more consistent basis at Westside. Over the past four years we have made gains with student attendance, which is due to frequent communication with our families about the importance of attending school and supporting students when there are struggles. Last year we had an overall attendance rate of 90.8%. A goal of ours is for all students to attend school at a rate of 95% or better, which means students have eight or fewer absences throughout the school year. Research indicates that students with poor attendance early on in their educational career are more likely to fall short of attaining reading proficiency by the third grade and are more likely to have poor attendance in later years, which eventually has an effect on graduation rates at the high school. Should you need support with your child attending school on a consistent basis, please seek support from your child’s classroom teacher, our school counselor, Karen Myers, as well as myself. 

    Thank you for supporting Westside Elementary!
    Bill Newton