Article: Toni Morrison Elementary principal explains strategy to boost literacy (Via The Morning Journal)

Toni Morrison Elementary principal explains strategy to boost literacy (Via The Morning Journal)



By Richard Payerchin-The Morning Journal  

New approaches to student academics and behavior will improve both in Lorain City Schools, one of the district’s turnaround principals said.

The Community Business School Partnership members received a number of updates on school issues during the Feb. 19 meeting at the Lorain High School Performing Arts Center.

Brigette Kaiser, turnaround principal of Toni Morrison Elementary, presented that school’s model for teachers to use data to improve the learning and behavior of students there.

Kaiser presented a number of slides with information about theory of learning and instruction and the practical effects in the classrooms at her school.

The Toni Morrison Elementary is supported and promoted by state educational support teams, said Lorain Schools Interim CEO Greg Ring.

“This may not be the only way to get better, but I believe this is a tremendous way to get better,” Ring said.

Some of the same methods have spread to other schools around Lorain, he said.

“This particular model, I believe, is a very effective model that could be implemented in all 10 of our elementary schools,” Ring said.

He called it “just good education, good reform, ways to get better,” and would support such a plan if he were the district’s CEO or superintendent.


Ohio schools use strategic plans based on the federal Every Child Succeeds Act, Kaiser said.

That act outlines goals for students across the nation.

At Toni Morrison Elementary, the school has an educational plan offering a “multi-tiered system of support” to ensure children are successful and ready for college and careers, Kaiser said.

The elementary teachers focus on students’ knowledge and skills, along with their social-emotional learning needs, she said.

The first tier of support is the broad level of instruction that all students receive.

Those who need more help learning receive targeted intervention, considered a second tier of learning.

Students with the most extreme needs receive more intensive instruction, which makes a third tier, Kaiser said.

Toni Morrison teachers are focusing on literacy education and using evidence-based instruction, she said, because learning to read is not like learning to speak.

Rather, reading combines a process of decoding and language comprehension, Kaiser said.

In the classroom, the methods are working, she said.

During the 2018-19 school year, the third-grade had 42 percent of the students be proficient in reading.

This year, that number of students increased to 64 percent, for a 22 percent gain, Kaiser said.

During the 2018-19 school year, the fourth-grade had 41 percent of students proficient in reading.

This year, that number increased to 60 percent, a gain of 19 percent.

Fourth graders also were recognized for their growth in math, with year-on-year proficiency rising from 58 percent to 71 percent, Kaiser said.

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