Mary Kate Bueltmann Dr. Guerriero

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Mary Kate Bueltmann

Dr. Guerriero

ED 244

18 April 2012

School Analysis Paper: Big Stone City School

Big Stone City School is a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Big Stone City, South Dakota. Big Stone City School is organized under district 25-1. The motto of Big Stone City School is, “Enabling all students to succeed in a changing world and instilling the desire for lifelong learning”. Beyond that, the school has six beliefs for students about students at Big Stone City School, which serves as their mission statement. They are as follows:

1. Teachers link administrative expectations to student accomplishment.

2. A climate of healthy risk-taking encourages learning.

3. Fun and enjoyment enhance teaching, learning and our work together.

4. Children should receive exposure to, guidance and counseling of vocational and life skills.

5. Children shall be provided experiences that will motivate awareness and creativity.

6. All students can learn, and learning is a shared responsibility

The purpose of this essay then, is to comb through the data of Big Stone City School, and determine whether or not their curriculum, test scores, etc. meet the standards they have set for themselves through their mission statement and vision.

There are 108 total students that go to Big Stone City school, and 12.12 teachers, which means that there are 8.9 students per teacher. This small teacher to student ratio allows the students and teachers to have personal relationships with each other, and through these relationships many of the beliefs of the school can be met. First, if a teacher has a smaller class size she can feel more comfortable taking healthy risks because it is much easier to control a small classroom than it is to control a large one. Also, a smaller class size allows a teacher to give the class more freedom to have fun, since she is not worrying about 30 children doing all different things, but only 9. Last, the claim that all students can learn is a lot easier to make when the teacher can spend individual time with each student observing how he/she best learns and tailoring assignments to students strengths.

The school spends $13, 750.00 on technology in one year. This means they definitely have at least one computer in every classroom, and potentially a few smaller gadgets (Ipads, tablets, etc). In the teacher handbook there are specific guidelines for using technology. The handbook specifically states, “Each grade is to use the computers available to them in order to enhance the students’ education”. This use of technology allows the school to meet their beliefs because teachers can use the technology to vary their teaching styles, making learning a more fun and enjoyable experience, and teachers can help students learn to use this technology, and are required in the hand book to teacher typing starting in fourth grade, which is a crucial life skill. In addition, technology often sparks creativity and motivates students to be aware of the world around them because it introduces new forms of media to students and perpetuates globalization.

The curriculum of the school is taught through one track. In fact, there is only one teacher for each subject in grades six through eight, and only one teacher per grade in grades kindergarten through five. There is no gifted program, although there is a special education program (which I’m pretty sure is required by law). This limited system of grade organization hinders the school’s ability to say that all students can learn because they do not have specialized tracks for students that are faster or slower at learning. However, since there are only nine students in each class, it is much easier to differentiate learning to the different abilities in the class. The school has also set up basic guidelines for each subject to be taught. The guidelines are as follows:

Reading should be given special emphasis and be taught twice a day in the lower grades. Reading must be taught at least once a day in other grades. Classroom teachers should work closely with other teachers to educate students through interaction with other classes. Book reports should be required as age appropriate.

Math also needs to be taught daily with emphasis on basic concepts. Math should be related to everyday life through the use of manipulatives and story problems as well as being integrated into other subjects. All basic concepts should be taught, using the higher levels of thinking. Classroom teachers should work closely with Title I and Special Education teachers.

English should be involved in all phases of education. Students should do much composition and creative writing.

Science includes drug education, basic science, survival, health, safety, environment, and nutrition. Integration with other subjects, visual aids, and hands-on projects are very successful teaching aids. The use of the science lab should be considered when planning lessons.

Social science should relate to today’s living and promote our heritage and our interdependence on each other.

Art should somewhat follow the suggested South Dakota Art Curriculum and should be incorporated into the other subject areas as much as possible. Samples of student art should be displayed in the designated areas.

Music will include a variety of songs: folk, western, patriotic, rock, etc. Students will also be taught fundamental concepts. Grades 5-8 will receive individual band lessons. Musical programs will alternate between Christmas and spring performances for all grades. Classroom teachers are to assist the music instructor in preparing for concerts.

Physical education will focus on motor skills, agility, strength, and coordination in addition to team sports.

Computer: Each grade is to use the computers available to them in order to enhance the students’ education. Keyboarding begins in the fourth grade and is reviewed in succeeding grades.

This curriculum meets the beliefs in the mission statement in many different ways. First, all of the standard subjects are taught allowing the school to accurately claim that they are linking the administrative expectations of the state to student accomplishment. In addition to the standard curriculum, music, art, computer, and gym are taught to the students daily. This validates the schools claim that they believe students should receive life skills and vocational skills through their schooling. They also receive life skills through story problems in math; drug education, health, safety, and nutrition in science; and study of South Dakota’s specific heritage in social studies. The school puts on musical programs during Christmas and spring that students are required to participate in. This allows the school to accurately proclaim that they provide experiences that spark creativity. In all of these classes, teachers are urged to use varied teaching methods in order to keep learning fun and enjoyable, which is also, conveniently, one of the claims the school makes in their mission statement.

In addition to the curriculum of the school, and co-curricular activities, Big Stone City School offers extra curricular activities. They only offer basketball and cheerleading at Big Stone City School, but they specify that students may participate in other extra curriculars that are offered at the next school district over, Ortonville. For being a school of 108 students, this is a pretty extensive extracurricular system. The school’s clear effort to involve kids in all different areas of interest shows that Big Stone City School sticks to their claims about fun and enjoyment, vocational and life skills, and experiences that motivate awareness and creativity.

The proposed budget for the school year of 2012 is as follows:

The per-pupil expenditure is $4,804.60. The majority of the money goes to paying teachers, buying furniture and supplies, and funding classes teachers can take to learn about new programs in education. The fact that $521,671.98 is spent on quality teachers and quality teaching programs for students shows that Big Stone City School believes teachers link administrative expectations to student accomplishments because they put most of their funds toward quality teachers. The next highest amount spent at Big Stone City School is on tuition. They spend $276,733.86 sending each student to school for the year, which displays their loyalty to the belief that all students can learn, and learning is a shared responsibility because they are willing to spend all this money on the students regardless of how smart they are, and they understand that it is their responsibility to foot the bill for this learning because it is a shared responsibility between teacher, student, and administration that the student is educated. Big Stone City School also spends a lot of money ($37,803.90 to be exact) on counseling and guidance. This demonstrates that Big Stone City adheres to its belief about having children exposed to life skills because a counselor’s main job is to help students through life decisions and issues that are troubling them. Big Stone City School spends a combined $22,172.75 on transportation and activities illustrating that they are committed to fun, enjoyment, awareness, and creativity. Last, Big Stone City School did it’s best to use all the funds given to them, and did not try to have a surplus to give tax payers a tax break. This shows that the school is committed to giving these students an education they can be proud of, and that the school is aware of it responsibility to the students. The school is not currently building any new projects, but rather focusing on the education of their students.

Big Stone City School’s No Child Left Behind 2011 School Report Card is as follows:

Big Stone City School passed all of their AYP tests including students with economic disadvantages, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency. This is misleading data however, because the school is not very diverse at all. Further into the AYP assessment one can see that they were unable to be tested in many areas. In this way the Big Stone City School actually fails to adhere to their mission statement by not providing experiences to students that will motivate awareness. How can these students be aware of other cultures and races if they are isolated from them? Unfortunately, it would be almost impossible to try to bus more diverse students into the Big Stone City School because they are out in the middle of nowhere, and South Dakota is pretty much made up of all white farmers. The AYP assessment also shows that students at this school are all learning, since their scores are 100% basic and above. This is higher than the state in almost every case. Therefore, it is clear from the data that Big Stone City School actively maintains its belief that all students can learn.

Overall, I would say that Big Stone City School accurately portrays its mission statement. The small class sizes allow for fun, risk taking, and having everyone learn; the use of technology ensures that students have fun, learn life and vocational skills, and are participating in globally aware and creative activities; and the curriculum displays a link between standards and student accomplishment, fun and enjoyable topics, application to life skills, and the ability for all students to learn. Additionally, the financial system and the AYP test scores of Big Stone City School shows that teachers are the link between standards and accomplishment, students receive vocational and life skills, students are provided experiences that motivate awareness and creativity, and that all students can learn and it is the student’s the teacher’s and the school’s responsibility to educate all students.

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