Principal Jill Gurtner and students Natalie Krogull and Megan Germann were among those who updated the Board on Clark Street Community School's continuous improvement action plans and data regarding improvement at the Board of Education regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 11.
Gurtner said the focus continues to be on personalized learning for every student. CSCS also integrated blended learning as well, especially in math, and continues to have lots of community partners.
"It is incredibly hard but it is incredibly rewarding,'' she said.
The school continue to serve a disproportionately high number of struggling students, although she noted Aspire scores show the vast majority of students are making improvement. She also stressed that students don't move forward without producing work, which has been a challenge because many of them aren't used to producing a lot of work. Staff are also learning a completely different way to engage students.
She noted the rate of growth in reading is above the national average and that math scores have also improved. Juniors were above the national average on their ACT scores, too.
This year's senior class is the first one that has had the opportunity to be at CSCS for four years. Many have already been accepted into college and admissions officers are saying the students are well-positioned to succeed, Gurtner said.
Brian Koenig, a parent with a daughter at CSCS who is involved with the Dane County Youth Assessment, spoke glowingly about the progress the school has made. He was very impressed with how CSCS students' level of engagement jumped to the top of the charts since the last survey in 2012. He said that just doesn't happen so they checked the results again.
Some of the most moving information came from the two students. Krogull is a senior who spent a year and a half in a Madison high school and a semester online in a different district before coming to CSCS.
"Being in a community where I know everyone has had a profound impact I my confidence,'' she said. "Look at me now, I'm talking to school board members. I feel really confident and I have those skills. I feel prepared to go on to college.''
Germann, who is a freshman, talked about being bored in middle school and was shocked at what school was like at CSCS when she went there on shadow day. "I couldn't be happier with my choice,'' she said.