Waterloo school receives national award for high test scores

Rogers Elementary School in Waterloo District 5 was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
Rogers Elementary School in Waterloo District 5 was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

Beyond state assessments and parent-teacher conferences, Principal Brian Smith says the staff at Rogers Elementary School and the parents are constantly checking in with each other about student performance there.

Smith thinks that ongoing communication is the reason the school is being recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

“They don’t fall through the cracks,” he said of struggling students.

Rogers Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School. The award is given to schools based on either high test scores or progress in closing achievement gaps that occur when one group of students outperforms another.

The only other National Blue Ribbon School in the metro-east is Scott Elementary School in Mascoutah District 19. Scott Elementary received the recognition in 2013.

Rogers Elementary was recognized this year for its students’ scores on state assessments. A majority — 66 percent — of students scored high enough to meet or exceed the state’s standards during testing in 2016. The year prior, 61 percent of students tested at that level.

Smith said Rogers Elementary staff are working to close achievement gaps, too.

“We’re always looking at ways to improve the curriculum and add the interventions and supports for our students, absolutely,” he said.

Throughout the school year, Smith said Rogers Elementary teachers are working to “set up supports for students who are struggling.” They also get the parents involved early to help those students, according to Smith.

“It’s a process that’s just been embedded in the district,” he said. Smith has worked in Waterloo District 5 for 21 years as a teacher and administrator. “I’ve seen it in different buildings that I’ve taught in.”

Each school in the district also has a “problem-solving team” that meets twice a month, Smith said. For Rogers Elementary, the team is made up of teachers, an administrator, a school social worker and school psychologist.

“That is a committee that works to help the students: to figure out what the student needs (and) get the resources to the teacher,” Smith said.

On average, Rogers Elementary serves about 385 students in second and third grades.

In November, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will honor the 342 schools, including Rogers Elementary, that were named 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes