By Kim Walter
WOODSTOCK - The Shenandoah County School Board approved the shift from a Title 1 Targeted Assistance program to a Title 1 Schoolwide program during its meeting Thursday night.
Previously, Title 1 services at Ashby Lee Elementary School and W.W. Robinson Elementary School were delivered via a targeted assistance model. Only students who went through a referral process could receive intervention in reading from a Title 1 reading specialist.
In a Title 1 Schoolwide program, any student who is struggling at any time during the school year can benefit from instruction delivered by a reading specialist.
Kelly Storey, the division's federal programs coordinator, presented the School Board with information on the change during its meeting last month.
In order for a division to transition to a Schoolwide model, each school has to meet two requirements: the student population receiving free or reduced lunch must exceed 40 percent; and the school and local education agency must engage in a year-long planning process during which a Title 1 Schoolwide plan is created.
Storey said both elementary schools exceed the free and reduced lunch requirement.
A major problem with the Targeted Assistance model, Storey said, is that it requires extra work on the teacher's behalf.
"A teacher has to do a needs assessment each spring, which is a hectic time of year anyway," she said. "They then have to rank their students and score their reading performance to get a referral."
Currently, about 300 students are served through the model between both schools. Storey said each school has five reading specialists to serve all of the students.
Storey said she also was concerned that because there are only a certain number of slots for children who need help through the Targeted Assistant model, the schools might be missing "a large number of kids who need help."
"That's the best thing about the whole school reform," she said. "This way any kid who is struggling can get help, whether its short or long term."
Storey said through the new model, at least 50 more kids would get help, if not more.
Additionally, paper work would be cut back for teachers, because they would no longer have to identify a student as "Title 1."
Now that the shift has been approved, Storey said the year-long planning process will begin, which will include teachers and administrators at both of the schools, as well as central office staff and officials from the Department of Education.
If the state approves the plan at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, the Schoolwide model would be implemented during the following school year, Storey said.
Following implementation, ongoing self-assessment would take place within the schools.
"We'll constantly look at what's working, what isn't, possible adjustments with gap groups and where our focus is," she said. "This is going to be a great way to impact more kids than ever."
In other matters, the board:
• Received a recommendation from the Transportation Committee to change the age requirement from 18 to 21 years old for any division employee who transports students.
* Learned that the Edinburg School Project is on track, and a ribbon cutting will take place Aug. 17
• Approved Karen Whetzel and Kathryn Holsinger as the delegate and alternate delegate to the Virginia School Board Association Delegate Assembly in November.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org