December 07, 2010
Na' Neelzhiin Ji Olta' (NJO) School is located in the rural isolated community of Torreon, New Mexico on the northeastern part of Navajo Nation. NJO is in its Fourth year as a tribally controlled Grant School. Comprised of the Family and Child Education program (FACE), and Pre Kindergarten through eighth grade. Most of our twenty-six teachers and twenty-five support staff members live near the school or in teacher housing located at a one mile distance. Some of our teachers and staff commute to NJO from the diverse community of Cuba, NM twenty-six miles northeast of Torreon. NJO has a unique relationship to the community and its governance as it is concomitant with the Torreon/Starlake Chapter House's organizational chart.
Averaging around 180 entirely Navajo children our student population qualified for free and reduced lunch programs. NJO is the major employer for its surrounding area and provides employment to local residents' as teachers, educational assistants, cooks, bus drivers, and maintenance personnel. Also, NJO is aspiring to improve the education of its community as a whole by providing several opportunities such as FACE program and GED classes.
Our community faces many endeavors that range from severe socio-economic deprivation, intergenerational trauma (including substance abuse, domestic violence, gangs, suicides), harsh environmental conditions (lack of infrastructure, no running water, no electricity, unpaved dirt frozen mud roads). These identifiable antecedence include, but are not limited to, lack of parent/guardian involvement, high absenteeism, and school closure due to inclement weather. In addition, there are low educational expectations from some of families of our students (education is still not seen as a priority); many of our students come to our school academically unprepared with an estimated two-year learning gap. While NJO recognizes that, our community faces an onslaught of factors that go beyond the schools ability to control we still strive to provide more than just an adequate educational opportunity. Belief that education is the key to unlocking poverty-low expectation cycles by treating the whole student and making sure to meet our students' basic needs so that they can learn, grow and succeed.
NJO's vision statement is a simple but powerful statement. The expectation placed on our students, teachers and staff is rigorous. We want all stakeholders to, "Learn, Grow and Succeed!" NJO believes that given the right tools and time there is no cap on what a person can learn. Our students' achievement on state assessments has steadily escalated over time. An analysis of our New Mexico Standards Base Assessment (NMSBA) scores in reading and mathematics show some gains in 3rd thru 8th grade over a three-year period. The following is a synopsis of our NMSBA Reading test scores from 2008–2010 in Proficient and Advance. In 3rd grade, they increased from 4% to 23%.In 4th grade, they increased from 24% to 62%. In 5th grade, they increased from 6% to 35%. In 6th grade, they decreased from 25% to 8%.In 7th grade, they increased from 24% to 33%. In 8th grade, they decreased from 34% to 24%. With the exception of a few 6th and 8th grade students, we made significant gains over the last three years.
The following is a summarization of our NMSBA Mathematic test scores from 2008–2010 in Proficient and Advance. In 3rd grade, they increased from 0% to 54%. In 4th grade, they increased from 0% to 31%. In 5th grade, they increased from 6% to 13%. In 6th grade, they decreased from 4% to 0%. In 7th grade, they decreased from 6% to 0%. In 8th grade, they increased from 8% to 13%.With the exception of 6th and 7th grades; our students have made significant growth in mathematics within the last three years.
School goals include: Curriculum: Lacking a formal educational curriculum for several years, NJO self sponsored a Curriculum Development Workshop, which took place during July of 2010. Teachers and Educational Technicians worked diligently on a Planned and Operational Curriculum for math and reading that aligns with New Mexico State Standards and Benchmarks. Educational Technicians also demonstrated initiative and determination as they were able to develop the NJO Dine' Language and Culture Curriculum within a school year. We are proud to say that this goal has been accomplished and our school now has a formal curriculum. Our teachers continue to update and refine their curriculum quarterly. The changes that were made to our curriculum show that this is a non-static document. The driving force behind our curriculum is the needs of our student as defined by our data. Attendance: Accomplishing our goal of reducing student absenteeism by closely monitoring and reducing student early sign outs with the implementation of an uninterrupted reading and math block was successful. NJOs attendance rate is 91.23% in comparison to New Mexico (NM) state goal of 92%. Long-term goals for Reading and Math By spring 2013, 3rd–8th grade students will achieve 89% NM AMO in reading as measured by the NMSBA. Objective 1: By spring 2011, 50.7% of 3rd-8th grade students tested will perform at proficient or advanced. 2: By spring 2012, 80.7% of 3rd-8th grade students tested will perform at proficient or advanced. 3: By spring 2013, 89% of 3rd-8th grade students tested will perform at proficient or advanced. By spring 2013, 3rd–8th grade students will achieve 86% NM Annual Measurable Objectives in New Mexico Standards Based Assessment (NMSBA) in Mathematics. 90% of our teachers will have increase content knowledge and professional knowledge in mathematics of 12 credit hours by 2013. Objective 1. 3rd–8th grade students scoring at proficient or advance in mathematics will increase by 30% from the current level of 3.6% to 33.6% as measured by NMSBA in 2011; to 63.6% by 2012; to 86% by 2013. 2: K-8th grade students meeting growth each school year in mathematics will increase by 10% from the current level of 57% to 67% as measured by NWEA in 2011; to 77% by 2012; to 87% by 2013. 3: AIMS web will be implemented fall 2010 to obtain a baseline data. Growth of 20 pts Mathematics as required by the New Mexico and 10 pts growth in NWEA annually. NMSBA is our summative assessment and AIMSweb, DIBELS, and NWEA are our formative assessment. Each of these test results have been disaggregated by one of our consultants and NCA/School Improvement Team members. Professional Development is implanted and ongoing at the school to train all teacher and educational technicians to be able, to analyze student work in order to drive instruction and SIOP lesson plans.
The school's student support services are dependent upon formative assessments. NJO uses a Response to Intervention (RTI) model to designate students in tier classifications: Benchmark, Strategic and Intensive. The RTI model provides in school interventions and afterschool programs that target intensive students. NJO's goal to increase parent engagement and commitment in support of school functions, goals setting in reading and math was successful. This past year, in conjunction with the school the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) has begun implementing family nights for literacy and math, and has aggressively pursued recruitment of more parent/guardian involvement. Parent participation in setting up for school functions has eventuated.
Historically under represented NJO has Gifted and Talented Program that uses in part the Futures for Children Curriculum. Special Education services, Counseling service, Social worker, Community Clinic, School resource officer, School psychologist, Register, Progress Monitoring by Principal, Reading and Math Coaches and Teachers, Athletics Program, American Indian Club and Afterschool Programs are available every school year. School website, newsletter, teacher letters and principal letters proffer communications to parents. NJO sends out academic progress report and report cards, electronic parent grade report portals (NASIS) and news releases. Student activities occurring on and off campus are advertised though schedules. Open house occurs in the first few weeks of school each year. Parent-teacher conferences are coordinated three times a year.
As in all institutions, we have faced our share of trials, but out of these challenges emerged our strong leaders among our staff. Our school has faced transformations over the last few years from administration turn over to new program implementations. Our teachers and educational technicians have been struggling to adapt to a new mandated reading program, and confronted with a new math program. Teachers have expressed feeling overwhelmed with new changes inflicted upon them in accordance of Bureau of Indian Education's BIE Reads! and MathCounts. In response to that, NJO has undertaken the initiative to establish a learning community. Honest and difficult conversations have been engaged in. These open communications have lead to more collaborative and transparent working conditions between our administrators and staff. Various professional development activities to train our teachers to be highly qualified in math and reading instruction are ongoing. NJO has taken strides to foster individuals that display strong leadership qualities and given them responsibilities to guide their peers. Our efforts have been rewarded as we now have a group of qualified faculty that is
NJO is proud of the accomplishments made so far and the direction in which we are heading. Our progress over the last three years is a testament to what is educationally capable at this school. In the summer of 2010, NJO engaged in a Curriculum Development Workshop that is proof of our growing achievement. Optimism is growing over the continued professional growth of our teachers. The NCA process has provided a foundation in which to govern our new course. Compilation of NCA artifacts will be NJO's summative evaluation, which will provide a road map for continuous success. Growth will be inevitable indicator on this success. Our students drive our pride; they are the legacy we will leave behind. The student body epitomizes our vision statement to the core, Learn, Grow and Succeed.