IRSD wins state award


The Indian River School District’s Meet the Challenge program has been named a 2005 winner of the prestigious Superstars in Education Award given by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

Meet the Challenge was initiated in November 2001 to address the academic needs of students at Selbyville Middle School and Sussex Central Middle School. During the past three years, both schools have experienced gains in the percentage of students meeting state performance standards in reading and math. They have also narrowed their achievement gaps between white students and African-American and low-income students.

The need for the Meet the Challenge program become evident in 2001 when Selbyville Middle School and Sussex Central Middle School were labeled as “Under School Review” by the State of Delaware. This rating resulted from the low percentage of students meeting or exceeding state performance standards in reading and math. The objective of Meet the Challenge was to research exemplary teaching practices, analyze testing data and create school-wide programs to improve student achievement in both content areas.

The first step was for the schools to analyze the data that resulted in their “Under School Review” ratings from the state. Once each school’s instructional needs and focus areas had been identified, teachers worked closely with school district officials on the implementation of new instructional strategies. Challenge leaders were chosen from each grade level to monitor the progress of the program and share innovative teaching practices between schools.

One of the program’s initial outcomes was the implementation of daily, standards-based instructional activities in reading and math. Teachers in every department currently work together to administer 12 daily activities that focus on one instructional need per month. Once monthly assessments have been administered in each content area, middle school teaching teams analyze the results to determine each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Data from the assessments is kept on file throughout the school year, along with results from unit tests, quarterly assessments, and the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP).

The program also features one-on-one student tutoring sessions and special teacher evaluation meetings following each assessment. Additionally, staff development activities are scheduled during teacher planning periods. The superintendent and district administrators regularly participate in Meet the Challenge workshops throughout the school year.

DSTP scores at both schools have shown significant improvement since the implementation of Meet the Challenge. At Selbyville Middle School, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the state performance standards in math increased points from 2001 to 2004. In reading, the percentage of students meeting the standards increased by 28 points. At Sussex Central Middle School, the overall percentage of students meeting or exceeding the state performance standards in math increased 14 points from 2001-2004. In reading, the percentage of students meeting the standards increased by 12 points.

Funded by the local business community, Superstars in Education is a statewide awards program that seeks to promote and share programs and best practices in education that show measurable results and raise student achievement.

This is the district’s eighth Superstars in Education Award since the program’s inception in 1989. Previous district winners were Frankford Elementary School (1992), East Millsboro Elementary School (1993), the district’s childcare providers workshop (1994), Lord Baltimore Elementary School (1998), Howard T. Ennis School (2000), Project V.I.L.L.A.G.E. (2000) and the Outdoor Education Center at Ingram Pond (2001).