B-A representatives return from Texas trip armed with new information

Representatives from the Bellwood-Antis School District including two parents traveled to the Lone Star State earlier this month to meet with school officials and study methods used in a Texas school district as part of a program designed to improve student test score achievement.
The Bellwood-Antis Middle School was among 16 schools chosen in May to participate in a program designed to show how the achievement gap can be reduced in an effective manner. The trip was an initiative from the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.
A release from the Bellwood-Antis Middle School listed the objectives of the visit to the Dowell Middle School in McKinney, Texas.
The objectives included exploring programs and strategies that have effectively improved the performance of students on state tests known as “The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.” The B-A group also set out to explore programs and strategies that have effectively improved the performance of economically disadvantaged students on the Texas state tests.
Other objectives for the group were to examine professional development goals at the Texas school district including looking at data and the implementation of a professional development plan.
B-A officials also wanted to examine the parent involvement program at the middle school in terms of reaching all parents and the role of the parent-teacher organization. The group also wanted to take a look at how the Texas school district funds new curriculum initiatives by examining the use of grants, community resources and district funds.
The B-A representatives spent two days in Texas meeting with administration and teachers from the school in an effort to achieve their goals. The team had the opportunity to visit classrooms, observe teachers as they planned lessons, sit-in on department meetings and interact with support staff. Additionally, Gavin Goodrich, Dowell Middle School principal, delivered a PowerPoint presentation focusing on the B-A group’s objectives.
Bob Fisher, Bellwood-Antis Middle School principal, stated, “The trip exceeded our expectations. The administration and staff at Ruth Dowell Middle School were gracious hosts and provided us with the information we were looking for on closing achievement gaps.
“We saw many innovative strategies being employed to maximize student learning and to assist struggling students,” said Fisher. “The next step in this process is for the Bellwood-Antis team to share these ideas with our staff and to explore how some of these ideas might be implemented in the Bellwood-Antis Middle School.”
In addition to Fisher, others who made the trip were Don Wagner, an administrative assistant and two middle school teachers, Connie Stewart and Joanel Young. Also making the trip were school board member Rhonda Hocutt and two parents, Pam O’Shea and Linda DelGrosso. A representative of the IU8 district, Daryl Smith was also invited to accompany the B-A officials and parents.