Belle Air Elementary has just finished a year's worth of experimentation in an attempt to get the school up to federal education standards, and it has made great strides, the principal told the school board recently.
In order to get out of program improvement, a designation given to schools that have consecutively missed their federal goals for statewide tests under the No Child Left Behind Act, the , student teachers from Notre Dame de Namur were brought into each classroom and other programs were implemented.
Principal Michael Rothhammer gave a presentation to the San Bruno Park School Board at its meeting last week about the school's progress and said Belle Air has made strides in six areas:
- The school had a successful after-school program this school year, and it just signed a partnership with the city to provide after-school enrichment programs next year through an After School Education and Safety grant.
- Results with English-language development were positive. Because the school has so many students who are learning English—two-thirds of the student population—Belle Air has faced challenges in the past getting the students to score high enough on the annual statewide tests.
- Belle Air has also been successful with engaging parents. A Latino parent literacy class was started and 16 parents participated. The Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center will be working with the school next year to continue the program.
- Rothhammer said he was happy with the level of students' progress in math. The progress, however, still has to be measured by test scores, which will be available in August.
- The school has seen greater fluency and comprehension among students in reading.
- The partnership with NDNU seemed to help and the student teachers will be back to the school next year.
Despite the school's progress this school year, it still may not be in the clear yet. According to the state, Belle Air has to achieve a 767 API score—an increase of five points from last year—when test results are released later in the summer.
The school also has to show growth with its English-language learners in both math and English and language arts, which can be a formidable task.
If the school hits those goals, it will "in effect, stop the clock" on the school's program improvement status, said Superintendent David Hutt.
Hutt added that the district is optimistic about that scenario.