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Old 01-15-2010, 08:01 PM
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ilbegone ilbegone is offline
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Default Hemet school stands alone

Hemet school stands alone

10:00 PM PST on Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Tina Yodites led her second-graders through an energy-laden lesson Thursday that centered on the students repeating out loud what they had learned and then quickly moving on to the next task.

The benevolent drillmaster watched for blank stares on the faces of about 15 students, but the thrusts of their tiny arms to the ceiling in response to questions showed that they knew the answers.

That approach, called direct interactive instruction, helped Bautista Creek Elementary School become the only school in the Hemet Unified School District to earn an award from California Business for Education Excellence for 2009. The award honors schools that improve their California Standards Test scores in language arts and math across all subgroups such as blacks, white non-Hispanics and socioeconomically disadvantaged.

There were 1,304 schools honored. There are more than 9,000 schools in the state, according to the Department of Education Web site.

The organization of business leaders exists to identify strategies that other schools can learn from.

Yodites describes direct interactive instruction as "a lot of small chunks instead of one big lesson." She spends two to three minutes on instruction, and the students spend the same amount of time on the work. Yodites said the lessons change every 10 minutes or so during a six-hour school day.

She said the strategy has helped her quicken her teaching pace.

Teachers begin with a goal, list objectives for each student and then determine how they will help the students get there. Teachers set achievement benchmarks and examine them every to or three months.

Fourth-year Principal David Howland said his teachers have bought in to direct interactive instruction, which was introduced there three years ago and is reinforced annually.

"We have a group of experienced and high-performing teachers," said he said. "They are driven."

Bautista, on Lake Street on the east end of town, has about 917 students in grades kindergarten through fifth. Their test scores have risen consistently for five years, Howland said, and they have reached their Annual Yearly Progress goals each year.

He noted that the school does not have enough English learners and special education students to form subgroups that count in the Annual Yearly Progress. Those are two subgroups that hold down overall test scores at some schools.

According to the Ed-Data Web site, which provides statistical and test data on California schools, Bautista's students are 49.7 percent white/non-Hispanic, 36.1 Hispanic, 7.4 percent black/non-Hispanic, 2.9 percent American Indian/Alaska Native and 1.5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander.
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