Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

May 21, 2012

West Goshen Elementary leading way in early reading intervention

INDIANAPOLIS — At the kindergarten round-up this spring at West Goshen Elementary School, teachers and administrators noticed something different: There seemed to be significantly more Hispanic children with parents who spoke both English and Spanish.

For a school that has seen a steady influx of Hispanic students for more than a decade, it was notable as school staff had long been used to teaching children of Hispanic immigrants who spoke little English.

West Goshen Principal Alan Metcalfe sees it as a hopeful sign, but one that also carries a challenge. Many of the students have no solid footing in either language, so there is a chance they may face increased difficulty not just in learning how to read, but making the critical transition to reading to learn.

For Metcalfe and his staff, their mission to find a way to reach those children in just a few short years seems urgent because the odds are so grim.

A 2010 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found students who don’t read at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than students who are proficient readers. Students who are poor readers and live in poverty are the hardest hit; they’re six times at greater risk for dropping out.

“It doesn’t matter what we’re teaching if the students aren’t learning,” Metcalfe said. “To focus on anything other than learning is a big waste of time.”

West Goshen is a school full of students who, statistically speaking, face longer odds for high school completion.

Almost 80 percent of the students come from families with incomes low enough to qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. Nearly half the students are Hispanic.

Yet West Goshen Elementary has become a national model for a teaching-excellence program funded by public and private sources, called TAP — the Teacher Advancement Program.

A national model

In April, it was named one of the four best schools in the nation for implementing TAP, by its major private funder, the Milken Foundation.

The TAP money has given West Goshen some resources it needs to help teachers become better at their craft. It encourages teachers to pool their skills to better identify and more closely monitor students who are falling behind.

It’s created a shift in thinking, Metcalfe says. It’s moved teachers away from thinking about “what our students can do, to what we can do for our students.”

Since reading skills are so critical to future academic success, West Goshen’s reading teachers have been honing in on the vocabulary development of students in the early grades, and providing after-school help for students who need the most help.

Metcalfe says there’s some evidence of success. In March, third graders throughout Indiana took a new reading comprehension test, called IREAD (Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination.) A state law, passed in 2010, mandated the test as a means to measure reading proficiency and compel schools to provide help to students who fail.

At West Goshen, 78 percent of the third-graders who took the IREAD test passed. The number is impressive; according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 34 percent of America’s fourth graders are reading at grade level.  

Metcalfe isn’t satisfied. Almost all the West Goshen third-graders who failed were students who speak English as a second language. Those students will get intensive help from the West Goshen teachers this summer.

Building stamina

Metcalfe argues the IREAD test scores don’t tell the whole story.

They don’t reflect, for example, the long-term impact of the school’s mentoring program that matches community volunteers with students who need support and encouragement.

Nor do they measure what he calls the “stamina” that West Goshen Elementary students are building that will help them persevere when they do get to high school.  

His message for students is aspirational: they need a high school diploma so they can get to college.

“There’s not one kid in this school that I’d say that college is not possible,” Metcalfe said. “There are some kids who are going to need a lot of extra help to get there.”     

Maureen Hayden can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

Text Only
Local News
  • GN140722 fair food drive 03 Fair's food drive falls short of world record, but is still a success

    For a 24-hour period, the Elkhart County 4-H Fair “All IN” food drive committee attempted a “Guinness Book of World Records” for the largest single-day food drive. Their goal: 560,000 pounds of food collected from 1 p.m. Sunday to 1 p.m. Monday.

    July 21, 2014 5 Photos

  • GN140722 fair special needs awareness 02 Many enjoy Disabilities Awareness Day at the fair

    Barry Malone stepped off the Orient Express roller coaster ride, grinning. “That I was fun. I liked that,” Malone said with a laugh. “That was a good ride, too.” Malone attended the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Monday and participated in the Disabilities Awareness Day activities and events at Heritage Park, just inside the main gate.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • GN131016 county commissioners ELKHART COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: Volume cranked up on noise violators

    Elkhart County Commissioners Monday approved the adoption of an ordinance amending the current Elkhart County Noise Ordinance to include stricter penalties for repeat violators.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140721 Kosciusko Fatal Photo #2.jpg Fiery crash kills one, critically injures two in North Webster

    A fiery crash in North Webster left a Pennsylvania man dead and two others critically injured at 3:21 p.m. Sunday on Ind. 13, near Esterbrook Drive.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • GN140721 fair ride 01.jpg SLIDESHOW: Francesca Battistelli at the fair Christian artist Francesca Battistelli performed at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Sunday night.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140721 fair parade 43 THE PASSING PARADE GOSHEN — The Elkhart County 4-H Fair Parade wound its way from downtown Goshen to the fairgrounds Sunday afternoon, bringing smiles to the faces of adults and children alike with horns, sirens, candy and fun floats. Gail Janssen, of Goshen, said that

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • SLIDESHOW: Elkhart County 4-H Fair Parade

    July 20, 2014

  • 0720 fair faces Giddens Katheryn Giddens joined 4-H on a whim GOSHEN — She’d have a hard time convincing her 4-H fair family now, but when Katheryn Giddens started her first year in the program, she was shy. “I hardly ever talked. I just showed up and did my thing and didn’t talk much at all,” she said. Gidden

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 22 states have jobless rate drop

    WASHINGTON22 states have jobless rate dropUnemployment rates dropped in 22 U.S. states last month and stayed the same in 14, as the nation at large posted a fifth straight month of solid hiring.The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates

    July 20, 2014

  • GN140720 Maple scholars_VanDerZwaag EXPLORING SUMMER GOSHEN — Fourteen Goshen College students are participating in the Maple Scholars Summer Research Program.Started in 1998, Maple Scholars is an eight-week program of research, experimentation, analysis and archiving data. It provides an opportunity f

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success