Woodrow Wilson Elementary School
Woodrow Wilson is one of 13 district schools in Manhattan, Kansas, a small university town (Kansas State University) surrounded by rural communities. Woodrow Wilson is a K-6 school with 320 students.
Student Racial/Ethnic Composition:
80% White (not Hispanic origin)
Limited English Proficient Students (2 languages spoken): 1%
The Quality Performance Accreditation (QPA) initiative adopted by the State Board of Education holds schools accountable for demonstrating student progress and mandates both site-based councils and school improvement plans. The QPA also requires a professional development component that connects these activities with instructional strategies. This state initiative served to facilitate site-based decision making and focus thinking on individual school improvement strategies.
Three teachers focused the faculty on the meaning and subsequent improvement of low student scores in fourth grade math and science. Following a Summer Magnet School for mathematics and problem solving (involving voluntary participation by students and teachers), teachers in all grades embarked on a year-long study of ways to implement the National Council of Teachers' of Mathematics (NCTM) standards throughout the school.
In the Spring semester of 1989, Kansas State University (KSU) conducted a needs assessment survey among student teachers, teachers, and parents in the Manhattan school district. Mathematics, science, and technology ranked lowest in terms of confidence and experience. Results of these surveys made clear the need to take an aggressive leadership role in addressing the needs of students, teachers, and administrators. Teachers must be willing to reexamine the way everything is used--personnel, space, money, time, research, and technology. "We must creatively build a different kind of school and preparation program that bridges the gap between what is learned to what people need to understand and be able to do in order to be productive in the future (Richardson, 1994)."
During the Fall semester of 1990, Wilson was invited by KSU to become a Professional Development School (PDS). This initiative involved a number of components that served to focus the Wilson faculty on developing a plan for professional development and raising questions about the ways to improve student performance in the targeted areas: a Wilson teacher was appointed a Clinical Instructor, with KSU supporting her half time out of the classroom; KSU faculty worked alongside several Wilson teachers with pre-service and inservice teachers; KSU students, working alongside Wilson teachers, sponsored after-school clubs focused on math and science which extended the learning time for students.