Glenn Dale Elementary administration has added new programs to boost reading and math scores this year and have seen some positive early results. The school also has a new ally in helping to improve student education in the Fairwood Education Task Force.
The taskforce has advocated for a new elementary school in Fairwood for years, but construction plans are on hold pending rising enrollments at existing schools, so the group decided to see how to help existing area schools such as Glenn Dale Elementary, High Bridge Elementary in Bowie, Seabrook Elementary, Thomas Johnson Middle School in Lanham and DuVal High School in Lanham, said taskforce chair Sonya Brathwaite.
Principal Jacqueline Marshall, presented third-, fourth- and fifth-grade testing results on the Prince George’s County school system’s Formative Assessment System Test, or FAST, results to taskforce members at an April 28 meeting.
The FAST tests are used by the school system to track how students may do on the Maryland School Assessment, or MSA, standardized tests in reading and math given by the state and required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act to bring all students up to proficiency levels in ready and math by 2014. Marshall said students achieving proficient or advanced in math on the test rose from one to seven percent from October to January.
“They’ve made significant strides in reading and math,” Brathwaite said.
Glenn Dale Elementary entered school improvement status this year because it failed to meet math standards on the MSA tests two years in a row, forcing administration to take steps to improve performance. One of the changes was Marshall, who succeeded Lia Thompson. Thompson retired in June.
“The way we approach teaching had to shift,” Marshall said. “We want to engage students.”
Marshall said every day at 8 a.m., Glenn Dale Elementary students do a Math Mad Minute, a one-minute test of their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables. Students who need help mastering the tables use iPads to practice, she said.
To help boost math skills, students this year visited the Safeway store in Fairwood with their parents, using addition and subtraction to estimate how many items they could buy for a hypothetical amount of money, she said.
Marshall also said that all Glenn Dale teachers received extra instruction this year in how to teach concepts in different ways, and some also worked with students who needed help in reading and math before and after school last winter, thanks to a $1,000 grant from County Councilman Eric Olsen (D-Dist. 3) of College Park, who represents Glenn Dale.
Four volunteers from Glenn Dale Baptist Church also help third- and fourth-graders with their homework twice a week after school, she said.
Marshall said one thing that could help Glenn Dale Elementary would be additional laptop computers, or less expensive Kindles, to help students practice their math skills.
The meeting with Glenn Dale Elementary was the first of a series of public meetings with surrounding schools that the taskforce hopes to schedule to not only identify ways it can help the schools but also inform area residents about school programs, Brathwaite said.
“We want to be a resource for our residents and surrounding neighborhoods,” Brathwaite said.