The Contextual Factors of Knowing Your Students

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In a bid to understand the nature of students you are dealing with, it is necessary to come up with variety of demographic and logistical information about the school and students in question (Stairs & Donnell 2010). This is compiled into a report that can be useful in the analysis of students. This paper examines the district and school data of Bill Hefner Elementary School in the report dubbed "No Child Left Behind. The school is located in Fayetteville in Northern Caroline and it is a public school. It is in the Cumberland County Schools district and it is involved with students in grades K-5. The report also caters for normal students as well as those who might be having disabilities. It also brings on board students from both sexes. The Education department state assessment scores and performing labels the year 2010 were done, in regard to the school's performance in Reading, Math, Participatory Rate and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and school improvement status. Therefore, this paper shows a final summary of the data.

In the year 2010, the school's Participatory Rate stood at 100% for all the students in the school. On reading and math, the school scored varied rates of 69.7%, 75.0%, and 77.9%, for Blacks, Hispanics and Whites respectively (Stairs & Donnell 2010). Those with disabilities, the rate stood at 39.2%. Math category saw the school scoring 73.5%, 91.2% and 93.3% respectively for Blacks, Hispanics and Whites (Stairs & Donnell 2010). In both categories of reading and math, there was a marked improvement compared to the performance in the previous years (2008, & 2009). In the 2009/2010 ABC Report, the schools figures were as thus: the Expected Growth: 0.101(Met)-2009, 0.114 (Met) -2010. This shows an improvement from 2009 to 2010 academic years. The High Growth figures came to: 1.405(No)-2009, 1.489(No)-2010. Still, there was an increase in 2010 (Stairs & Donnell 2010).

Considering the school's performance in proficiency by grades and levels, there was a general improvement at all levels in all the years (from 2008 to 2009, and 2010). This was reflected in Math, and in Reading. According to grade performance, the school posted: 70% and 66.1% (Stairs & Donnell 2010) in literacy and informational respectively, in the year 2010. Grade 4 gave 72.3% and 71.2 respectively in the same year (Stairs & Donnell 2010). Grade 5 on the other hand posted 67.7% and 64.8% accordingly (Stairs & Donnell 2010). In math, the school managed the scores of 72.79% and 76.2 % in grade 3, 79.17% and 83.2% in grade 4, while grade 5 realized 78.40% and 72.5% (Stairs & Donnell 2010). The schools future expectations are quoted in its vision statement as thus "…a region's performance in the knowledge economy can rise no higher than the sum of the knowledge of its people." It adds that "The level of education achievement that we settle for establishes an absolute upper limit on our economic prosperity."

One of the main goals that the school put into use was to apply strategies and skills to comprehend that is read, heard and viewed. The school also aimed to nurture students into: Making connections through the use of oral language, written language, media and technology. In math, the school envisaged the following as its goals.

Understanding and using perimeter and area

Recognizing and using geometric properties and relationships.

Understanding and using graphs, probability and data analysis.

Demonstrating an understanding of mathematical relationships.

Reading, writing, and computing with negative rational numbers.

In all the above goals, the school scored above 60% with goal number four garnering 75.5% (Stairs & Donnell 2010).

The report also touched on other pertinent information about the students, including their daily schedule, enrolment and ethnicity, school calendar, traditions, programs, parental involvement activities, and school/classroom rules and procedures. The students' daily routine runs from 8:30 am when classes kick off to 3:30 when they break for home. In between the lessons, students take breaks for instance at 10:30 am students are given 20 minutes for tea break after which they go back to class for 2 lessons before breaking for lunch at 12:45 pm. They are expected back in class by 2:00 pm for only two lessons then they break for physical education otherwise known as PE (Montessori, 2010).

The chart below helps us to understand more on statistics of enrolment and ethnicity at Bill Hefner Elementary school:

Figure 1

The above chart displays the number of students enrolled yearly at Bill Hefner Elementary school according to ethnicity. The student teacher ratio is 15:1.

Teachers on the other hand are expected in school beginning 6:30 a.m. The school calendar runs from September to June when students break for summer holidays. In between the term, there are term dates that students could skip school, including public holidays and celebrations. Report cards are issued at the end of every term, students are supposed to take them home get them signed by parents/guardian and return them to school on opening day. The school has maintained a good history of good performance as success remains its top tradition. Parents are closely knitted into the school's programs and they are called upon often to discuss issues affecting the school or particular students. The school offers a curriculum that educates students on cooperative learning. This is designed to help them learn how to handle group work, solve problems and to help them become critical and creative thinkers. It also offers extra curriculum activities such as sports and drama.

The school is celebrated as one with the stringent rules around the region. But as the school principal explains, they are the secret behind the good performance that the school has been posting so far. Every student is expected to adhere to the laid down rules and regulations of the school, failure to which they face a penalty of in-suspension, this punishment allows for students to finish their homework while in isolation from other students. If the student doesn't change for the better then he/she is suspended from school for up to five days. The community around is fairly supportive towards the school's realization of its dreams. Important people have donated materials, books and sponsorship to the school's bright students. The community has also provided role models who occasionally come to address students especially on their career choices.

Without such kind of information, one will be operating on assumptions and clichés about the school or the students (Stairs & Donnell 2010). This curtails any significant effort that would otherwise be of importance to the school as well as to the student. Officers and educators therefore, undeniably need the information to effectively carry out their duties.