Hanson Elementary, one of seven elementary schools in Adams County School District 14 (Adams 14), has made significant improvements in student achievement, moving from the status of Turnaround to that of Performance on the School Performance Framework. Last year, Hanson was in the 26th percentile, and in 2012, moved up to the 75th percentile – exhibiting more growth than any other cohort I Tiered Intervention Grant, (TIG) school in the state of Colorado.
The school ranked eighth in the state of Colorado in writing growth for elementary schools (as measured by median growth). In 2012, the school exceeded its growth targets in reading and writing, after three consecutive years of limited, or no growth.
In 2010, Hanson received a three-year Tiered Intervention Grant funded by the federal government to support schools performing in the bottom five percent of achievement.
“Our approach to reform is quite unique amongst TIG schools in the state,” said Nelson Van Vranken, principal at Hanson Elementary. “We are focusing on a school-based model to ensure sustainability. The grant is managed by Hanson’s leadership team, with input from parents and oversight by District leadership and the Colorado Department of Education.”
While most TIG schools spend about 50 percent of grant funds on outside contractors, Hanson has spent less than 10 percent of overall TIG funds on outside contractors. Van Vranken believes that this strategy will enable ongoing sustainability. Part of Hanson’s sustainability plan is the development of a focused, school-based coaching model, designed to improve instruction in all content areas. Hanson currently employs three content-based coaches in reading, mathematics and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Instructional coaches spend 85 percent or more of their time in classrooms. “Our strong emphasis on school-based coaching has proven to dramatically increase the skills of our teachers, and will impact student learning beyond the life of the grant,” said Van Vranken.
Another unique aspect of the reform work at Hanson is the development and delivery of targeted parent involvement workshops. These workshops incorporate goal-setting and parent networking opportunities. This model is designed to increase student achievement by coaching parents to support their students’ growth through skill-based activities practiced at home. “Through their participation in the workshops, our parents feel empowered and have a clearer understanding of how school works. This enables them to more effectively support their children’s academic growth. This strengthens our partnership with the parents,” said Anya Yankelevich, Hanson’s Parent Support Specialist.
About Hanson Elementary School:
Hanson serves nearly 500 students, of which 82 percent are English-language learners and 88 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch. The school’s principal, Nelson Van Vranken, was hired to lead the reform in 2009. He is a graduate of the Ritchie Program for School Leaders at the University of Denver. Prior to joining Adams 14, Van Vranken was an assistant principal in Denver Public Schools.
About Adams 14:
Adams 14, a nationally recognized leader in education innovation, is Colorado’s 25th largest school district and serves nearly 7,500 students annually. Nestled in the historic community of Commerce City, Adams 14 strives to ensure academic success for every student by providing highly effective classroom instruction, supplemental enrichment opportunities and parent/family collaboration opportunities. To learn more about Adams 14, visit adams14.org.
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