By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Cherokee Elementary School has met the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) rating approval and has been certified by the BIE (Bureau of Indian Education) for the 2011-12 school year.
“I’m so proud of my teachers and students,” said CES principal Paula Coker.
Cherokee Elementary is a tribal grant school and does not report test scores to the state, but the Cherokee Central Schools has adopted the North Carolina testing model for test accountability. Test scores and attendance numbers are sent to the BIE for certification.
“There is an agreement with the state,” related Coker. “They send us testing materials, and we go through the same tests every other child in North Carolina has to take.”
To meet the AYP standard, a school must reduce the number of non-proficient students in reading and math by 10 percent. Coker said that sometimes reducing that number is hard and must start with the basics. “I think, we, as a school, have done a better job at assessing children to know where they are. We know what level they are reading on. We know where their deficits are so we’re able to pinpoint more about what needs to happen in the classroom.”
- 3rd grade Reading – 53%
- 3rd grade Math – 75%
- 4th grade Reading – 54%
- 4th grade Math – 75%
- 5th grade Reading – 56%
- 5th grade Math 67%
“We are doing great in math,” said Coker. “Reading has to be the focus. It’s reading where we have to close the holes. We are using the data to move forward.”
For the 2011-12 year, Cherokee Elementary’s third and fifth graders scored higher than American Indian students at Swain East Elementary and Smoky Mountain Elementary. Swain East’s fourth graders made the highest scores for that level.
Scores for Swain East are as follows:
- 3rd grade Reading – 47.6%
- 3rd grade Math – 71.4%
- 4th grade Reading – 84.2%
- 4th grade Math – 89.5%
- 5th grade Reading – 50%
- 5th grade Math – 58.8%
Scores for Smoky Mountain are as follows:
- 3rd grade Reading – 52%
- 3rd grade Math – 52%
- 4th grade Reading – 66.7%
- 4th grade Math – 70.8%
- 5th grade Reading – 52%
- 5th grade Math – 64%
Coker said a lot has changed at Cherokee Elementary since she arrived in the 2010-11 school year. “The atmosphere was a lot different in the building at that time. Even students were saying, ‘we can’t do this. We’ve never done that well.’”
“The second year, the atmosphere in the building was totally different. The kids were focused. They had confidence in themselves. They knew they could do it, and I think that came out of the teachers feeling more confident in what they doing and understanding why we were doing all of those acessments.”
Coker related that the confidence and participation continues to grow and improve. “Some classes had 100 percent parent/guardian participation at open house this year. That speaks to how much the parents are supportive of our school.”
Cherokee Elementary currently has an enrollment of 571 students.