FIVE STARS FOR OASIS | NevadaAppeal.com

FIVE STARS FOR OASIS

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Oasis Academy math teacher Jake Lewis works on Tuesday morning with a small group of students.
STEVE RANSON / SRANSON@LAHONTANVALLEYNEWS.COM |

Oasis Academy Charter School scored near the top for the second consecutive year in student proficiency scores as determined by the Nevada Department of Education’s performance framework.

The seventh and eighth-grade classes received high scores again and earned a five-star ranking based on growth and status measures of achievement, reductions in achievement gaps and other indicators, which measures the student average daily attendance for the school.

“Our kids were willing to work really hard, and it hasn’t been an easy fit for them,” Principal Melissa Mackedon said of the school’s older students. “They were pushed in math a lot and pushed in their requirements for some of their projects.”

Since the seventh and eighth grades represent the older learners, she said some students experienced a more difficult transition from the school district’s elementary grades.

Oasis Academy which comes under the state Public Charter School Authority, opened in 2012.

The elementary students in grades third through sixth — earned four stars.

She said the students also performed well on the test, but she noticed the third graders have more anxiety in taking the test.

“They know it (the test) is big and overwhelming and that it’s important,” Mackedon said.

Last year, schools were given Adequate Yearly Process (AYP) scores. Oasis Academy’s AYP achieved a designation of “High Achieving” status for its first year of 2011-12.

Since the school opened its doors, she said enrollment has been capped at 180 students, 20 per grade.

“This allows us to keep close tabs on where students are at and where they are struggling,” Mackedon explained.

As with those old one-, and two- and three-room schoolhouses that once dotted the Lahontan Valley, students usually had the same teacher for years. The same philosophy holds true at Oasis.

Mackedon said students are spending multiple years with the same teachers, specifically in English and math.

“This allows for growth,” she said. “There is not time at the beginning of the year, and teachers know where their students left off and where they need to begin.”

For the younger students, Mackedon said they will spend a number of years with the same teacher, and the test scores will show the pupils’ academic growth.

“We have really great teachers who work hard and an willing to try different things,” Mackedon added. “Our teachers also spend extra time to help tutor.”

During the summer, she said students below grade level were involved in summer tutoring and that the school has a mandatory summer reading program for all students.

Mackedon said the families are very involved and supportive in ensuring their students receive the best education and instruction.

Shannon Windriver, who teaches reading to third and fourth-grade students, ensures her students enjoy all type and forms of reading.

“My focus is on authentic (real world) reading and reading for pleasure,” she said. “We do book clubs where the students choose their own books to read and then they have a good discussions with each other.”

She gave an example of several students who were interested in tornadoes. She said the students read about tornadoes and obtained information on twisters, which was then presented to the classmates.

Another successful key for students to achieve high scores is through small-group learning groups. In math under the guidance of teacher Jake Lewis, about a half-dozen students received one-on-one instruction.

“He knows what the less is and gives them a head start (before the actual math class),” Mackedon said. “These are the type of students who need to hear it more than once.”

Lewis agrees and said the small groups gives students more confidence.

In addition to the academy’s scores, Mackedon said she was also pleased to see the Churchill County School District improve on their scores and rankings.

As reported last week middle school showed vast improvement with four stars, while three elementary schools and Churchill County High School each earned a three-star rank.