Jefferson Elementary School • Calexico, California
Jefferson Elementary School (Calexico, CA)
We began our journey in the fall of 2006, fresh off the heels of being labeled “bottom of the barrel” by our local newspaper based on our standardized test scores. We had just finished reading the literature on Professional Learning Communities and we were confident that this was the correct path for our school. The school started by having meetings that included our parent community and our staff.
During this time, we put into writing our fundamental purpose and our mission, which then led to the creation of our vision, and the identification of our values and goals. We identified what we expected our students to learn, and this became our essential standards for ELA and Math. We continued by creating common benchmark assessments to help determine if our students were learning what we expected them to learn. Our first pyramid of intervention was designed and implemented.
We concluded the year feeling that we were on the right track. However, when the results from our state test determined that we had not reached our targets and had made only minimal growth, we were disappointed—but not deterred. In the next school year, we concentrated on refining our practices with an added focus on school culture and climate coupled with intense staff development on a research based model for instructional delivery. That year the state test results showed that we made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). We began 2009-2010 riding the wave of motivation from our success. We invested in new resources and had an influx in technology. Furthermore, for the first time we had built-in collaboration time within the school day.
Our confidence of exiting program improvement was high, but one month before state testing, on April 4, 2010, a 7.2 earthquake shook our community. Our school suffered the most physical damage of any school in the county. Our students did not resume classes until May 13, 2010, missing 23 days of instruction. We tested the last three days of school. The tests were never scored as our district was granted a waiver. This year, our school has been split into three different sites. Students in grades 2–6 are being educated at the original campus in modular classrooms located on the other side of the 8-foot fence that blocks access to the main school buildings. A lack of proper facilities (i.e. cafeteria, library) was among the new challenges we have faced this year. One word has defined us since April 4, 2010—“Resilient.” The 7.2 couldn’t rattle us off our path. Our journey continues.