Persistence and teacher training pay off for students in Mohave Valley Elementary School District
Mohave Valley, AZ | Submitted by Whitney Crow
When two of the schools in Mohave Valley Elementary School District (MVESD) were labeled as needing improvement, district leadership knew they needed to make big changes. And they did just that. Through a combination of professional development and student engagement, the district has raised AzMERIT scores significantly and the schools have raised their grade to “B.” It didn’t happen overnight, but their focus and persistence have led to impressive student growth.
In an area of the state marked by high student transiency, a declining population and high poverty, a focus on improving instruction has closed the achievement gap between their students and the state average. MVESD deployed a variety of strategies:
- To improve instruction, teachers use Arizona’sReading First model, which included positive teaching strategies and direct instruction. Students were also given the opportunity to participate in re-teach sessions, to ensure they did not fall behind.
- To improve math learning, MVESD engaged with the Rodel Foundation’s Math 20/20 model. This deepened teachers’ understanding and created better number sense in the K-2 school students. The training also aided teachers in helping parents understand why it is beneficial for students to learn multiple ways of approaching a problem.
- To aid teachers, the district invested in new curriculum that was closely aligned with the current state standards. The rigor and focus on achievement has been a big contributor to the district’s boost in AzMERIT scores.
- To ensure that new teachers are on the same page, MVESD created a teacher’s academy. For a few hours every week, educators who are new to the district are trained in best practices. It has been helpful in reducing the impact of teacher turnover. This, coupled with more frequent and focused classroom walk-throughs has helped the schools boost teaching skills and further drive professional development.
Having the best teachers possible has allowed MVESD to educate more effectively and better prepare students to progress to the next grade. Thanks to the passage of a recent budget override, they were also able to boost pay and retain more teachers than usual. Their efforts are closely aligned with the Arizona Education Progress Meter, which is measuring key education metrics to help guide policy and improve education for all Arizona students. In addition to boosting third grade reading skills and eighth grade math performance, teacher pay is a key focus area for both the Progress Meter and MVESD.