Extra help for WC students

At Monday’s regular meeting of the Webster City Community School District Board of Directors, the board was given a couple presentations from local school principals on how their schools have responded to interventions.

Webster City Middle School Principal Becky Hacker-Kluver said interventions are given to better meet the needs of each child. She said that does not only mean that interventions are given to students who need academic help, but also may need physical, social or emotional help.

“There’s all kinds out there, but that’s what we try to do,” Hacker-Kluver said.

She said that some traditional interventions have proven to be ineffective. Summer school classes are not effective unless it is spent on targeted skills, according to Hacker-Kluver. She also said retention is often ineffective, as if a student is retained after third grade, they are 10 times more likely than their non-retained peers to drop out of school.

Instead, Hacker-Kluver said required intervention time with systematic monitoring of students administered by trained professionals is more effective. At Webster City Middle School, fifth and sixth graders are required to have about a half hour for math and a half hour for reading every other day. Students in seventh and eighth grade continue that and have about a half hour at the end of the day where instructors and other faculty can address a student’s specific needs.

She cited specific cases where specific intervention for students has been successful at her school. In one instance, a student who has had behavioral issues has improved them with extra time for exercise early in the morning.

“You never know what interventions you might do, because you always think of academic ones but it’s so far beyond that now,” Hacker-Kluver said.

Webster City High School Principal John Elkin also presented the board with how his school has worked in time for intervention. Currently, the school has a common time in the morning where students either read, are given free recreation time, or go to specific teachers to get assistance with their work or to make up or redo a test called FIXIT, Flexible Intervention for Xtra Instruction Time.

Previously, Elkin said the only time at the school for such interventions was homeroom and later, advisory. However, he said those attempts failed because it was just 19 minutes long and the advisors facilitated the instructor’s responsibility.

“What we’re to do right now with FIXIT is to take all this busy work and give everyone a common time,” Elkin said.

Elkin said the goal of FIXIT is to ensure students are learning, which in turn, will lead them to be successful academically. To show how it is working so far, Elkin showed statistics on the number of students with one or more “D” or “F” grades in the first nine weeks of this year compared to the same time last school year.

This year, the number of students with at least one “F” grade was down from 124 to 116, although it was a percentage increase from 18.75 percent to 20 percent with a smaller group of students. Students with at least one “D” rose from 172 at 29 percent to 209 students, 37 percent, this year. Elkin said fewer “F” grades would means there are more “D” grades. Still, in the short time that FIXIT has been implemented, Elkin said he has seen it help students.

“If this doesn’t work, have we really lost anything? We weren’t doing anything before. It was dead time. At least now we’re doing something,” Elkin said.

In other business, the board also requested modified allowable growth at $95,401 for this year. Superintendent Mike Sherwood said that once the time to do the budget this year comes, the board will decide whether or not to tax to support that spending authority.

The next board meeting is set for Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. at the School Administration Office Board Room.