Memorial Park Elementary School is already seeing a payoff from the implementation of goals set this school year.
Principal Eric Rigsby presented the school's continuous improvement plan at a meeting of the Jasper City Board of Education on Nov. 18 and discussed all of the goings-on at the school.
In an ongoing effort to increase attendance, a system has been put into place at Memorial Park where students are challenged as groups to earn coins. The coins are presented for good behavior and attendance, and special incentives are given to groups that earn the most coins.
"That has been a really good way to get our kids engaged, and I think it has really helped our attendance data this year as well," Rigsby said. "Our kids are not checking out of school, they're not missing school, because they want to earn those gold coins to get a pizza party or whatever it may be."
Rigsby later pointed out that the school's average daily attendance has been 98 percent since the new incentive system was put into place.
Student engagement has also been enhanced by setting aside specific instructional time.
"Your Tier I instruction is what your teachers do in whole group. Your Tier II is where your teacher is taking a focused approached with those three, four or five students that didn't get it that first time around, and they're pulling them back in and taking the time to sit down and cover that again. For years, we've said we did that, but I don't know that we did it well," Rigsby said.
He explained that 45 minutes is now being set aside at the beginning of each school day for Tier II instruction, and the benefits are already being realized.
"I really think we're going to see an impact with our students that are kind of on the bubble there," he said. "We hope that's really going to help our students."
Since additional Tier II instruction was implemented, Rigsby said test scores have gone up. In two months, for example, students in second grade have grown five months in skills comprehension.
"Our teachers are doing a great job. This where I think our Tier II time is going to come into play and really pay dividends to help move some of our struggling students," Rigsby said.
School demographics were also a topic of discussion in Rigsby's report.
Of the school's 412 students, 222 are enrolled in second-grade, which Rigsby said is the largest group in Jasper City Schools.
In addition, nearly 70 are Hispanic students — an increase from years past.
"This year we serve 67 Hispanic students at Memorial Park School, and that has really challenged our professional development and things because we're having to look at how we teach those students," Rigsby said. "We're having to look at their background knowledge. A lot of those students just don't have the background knowledge that some of our students do."
Rigsby said there's an ongoing effort to fill the knowledge gap and address the language barriers between Hispanic students and their fellow peers.