Fort Dodge Community School District

ABC, ALC Program Benefits Discussed by Board - from The Messenger

November 11, 2014

By: Brandon L. Summers

Two Fort Dodge Community School District programs are designed to help struggling students: the Academic and Behavior Collaborative program for elementary students and the Academic Learning Center program for grades five through eight.

Diane Arndt, FDCSD instructor, oversees the ABC program at Butler and Feelhaver elementary schools, and instructor Branwyn Greathouse oversees the program at Duncombe and Cooper elementary schools and Riverside Early Learning Center.  

Both programs began in 2013.

Arndt explained to the FDCSD board at its regular meeting Monday, held at the Central Administration Office, the benefits of ABC.

"During the first trimester of this year, approximately 77 kids have been served by us," she said. "The students who receive supportive services from us, we develop goals with them based on what their needs are. They might include additional academic supports. We may be teaching social behaivor exprecations with kids. And we also develop and build positive connections with their school setting."

The students are chosen by a rubric, through a math and reading screener and disciplinary referrals. Success is determined by their progress in those difficult areas.

"If they increase their reading level or improve their math screener scores, it's identified as making progress," Arndt said. "In the areas of attendance and behavior if they decrease the number of behavior referrals ... or they show a decline in days absent or tardies, they're looked at as making progress, too."

All elementary students are screened three times during he school year, at the end of the trimester, and referrals are accepted from teachers throughout the year.

Vic Vanderpool oversees the ALC at Fort Dodge Middle School, helping students in grades six through either, with Melissa Donahe, a new addition to the district, supporting students in fifth grade.

Vanderpool told the FDCSD board that the program, in its second year, continued to grow.

"We've learned a lot," he said. "Last year was a challenging year for us, not quite knowing what to expect. But things went really well."

According to Vanderpool, the program first served 40 students, which expanded to 50. This year, ALC is serving 30 students, providing academic and behavior supports, similar to the ABC program.

"Overall, that group last year averaged almost a year's growth in math on the Iowa Assessments, which we were very happy with, and a year and a half's growth in reading," he said. "That may not seem as high as we'd hoped, but you've got to understand, a majority of these students would have shown maybe a loss. Many of these students are two to three levels behind on the Iowa Assessments."

Donahe works with students who are struggling also with the transition from elementary to middle school.

"They come from small schools and they come to this large school, and they're getting lost," Donahe said. "I have 30 students given to me ... and some of them have had more needs than others. What I've found is the children who have the behavioral issues, the ones that are acting out ... it's because they're frustrated."

The programs are funded with at-risk funds, Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, said.

The FDCSD board also recognized All-State vocal musicians, Opus Honor Choir students, fall drama students, and band students. The students and employee of the month were also recognized. The board also approved an application to the School Budget Review Committee to receive a grant for allowable growth for the district's increasing enrollment. 

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