Kouts students, teachers host Washington officials
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org September 8, 2011 4:26PM
Kouts second-grade teacher Shelly Spagna, left, explains data collected from student performance as representative's of the US Department of Education look on at Kouts Elementary school Thursday Sept. 8, 2011. Deputy assistant secretary for Rural Outreach John White, right, Linda Hall and teaching fellow Genevieve DeBose, left toured the Kouts school complext during the day. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 9, 2011 1:04PM
KOUTS — Third-grader Hayden Landfadt couldn’t wait to tell his guests from Washington D.C. about his future plans on Thursday.
“I’m saving money from raising a cow, some of it will be for college, some for a car,” he told John White, U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant for Rural Outreach.
White and Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow Genevieve DeBose, of New York City, spent the afternoon visiting classrooms in Kouts to see how federal Title I dollars are being used.
The Washington guests got a glimpse at a K-12 schoolhouse, bordered on its northeastern side by a cornfield. Students at the rural school routinely post top achievement scores. The school has about 400 elementary students and 453 in grades 6-12.
“We always like to see how our investment is used,” White said the Title I funds. “They’ve done a lot in this school and they clearly place an emphasis on technology.
“Education and jobs are clearly connected, no doubt about that.”
The federal education officials are part of an “Education and the Economy” bus tour. After their Indiana stop, they head into Wisconsin, White said.
In Hayden Landfadt’s class, taught by Christine Paluch, students made bar graphs on an interactive whiteboard, using math and language skills.
They also heard second grade teacher Shelly Spagna explain how she uses a Palm device to hold achievement data from an assessment system the school received through a state grant.
“We’re all about the data,” Spagna said as she opened a large binder. That data helps teachers stay on top of their students’ skill levels, such as which ones know their vowel sounds.
Spagna said her students typically improve five reading levels, within their second grade spectrum, between November and April through another program called Read to Succeed, she said.
Spagna said students undergo plenty of testing early in the year but it pays off because teachers learn where they’re at and what they need to work on.
White said he’ll take back what he learns to share with his colleagues.
“When we are talking about a policy or a program, I can relay Kouts’ challenges and offer their solution,” White said.