ARAPAHOE — Arapahoe School in Fremont County has achieved dramatic improvement on its student test scores, allowing it to meet federally mandated education requirements for the first time.
“I have never seen these gains in a single year for a school in Wyoming,” said Kevin Lewis, who’s in charge of research and special initiatives for the Wyoming Department of Education.
The kindergarten through eighth-grade school had some of the state’s lowest test scores and most of the students live in poverty. The increases include the percentage of fourth-graders proficient in math increasing from about 30 percent to 56 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to data provided by the Wyoming Department of Education. For fifth grade, numbers rose from 43 to 61 percent scoring at least proficient.
Grades tested in science and math also improved.
District officials credit a combination of efforts: more consistent teaching strategies, a new math program, better handling of behavior issues, a state program that provided additional reading help for some students and increased family involvement.
Last year, the school started improvement efforts required by the U.S. Department of Education for not meeting so-called Annual Yearly Progress requirements for a number of years. The school this year reached the progress benchmarks.
The school also is in the middle of a three-year, $1.2 million School Improvement Grant used to fund positions like a math coach and curriculum materials for teachers.
Superintendent Jonathan Braack told the Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/VV4aGe) that newly formed teams of educators have focused on aligning curriculum throughout classrooms and grade levels, teaching strategies and assessment of student data.
In addition, a discipline program removes disruptive students from classrooms, so less class time is lost for behavioral issues.
District officials and faculty members also have been working to create more family events and better involve parents and guardians.
Parent Leslie Spoonhunter said her daughter had been struggling in math last year but made honor roll this fall for the first time in years. Both of Spoonhunter’s children are earning better grades in math and reading, she said.
Lori Brown, who has two grandchildren attending school, said she feels much more welcome in the school this year and she’s noticed others feel the same.
“They know that it’s their school, and they’re welcome at any time,” Brown said. “We have a really, really good superintendent, and he’s really brought this school up to where it should be.”