Data shows 3rd grade Reading & Math test results below basic level

DOE director urges principals to work with teachers & parents to make a difference

With data showing below basic level test results in Reading and Math for third grade students over the last two years, Education director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga has urged principals to work together with teachers and parents to make a difference in the public education system.

This was one of the issues discussed during Matagi-Tofiga’s first meeting with elementary and secondary school principals — except for Manu’a schools — held Monday this week at the ASDOE conference room at the main office in Utulei.

According to Matagi-Tofiga, she shared with the principals “leadership traits” and that it’s important to have a vision, which must be shared with teachers, parents and students. She says a principal’s plan will put that vision in a framework and part of the plan should include data.

The ASDOE director also shared at the meeting, data on 3rd grade reading and Math results from the last two years. The results, provided by ASG’s Office of Testing and Accountability, “overall revealed that most of our students are below basic,” she explained.

“Let’s work in making a difference,” Matagi-Tofiga recalled of what she told principals during the meeting. She also informed the participants that ASDOE will now have an after school program with Achieve 3000 — improving basic literacy skills for some of the schools and an after-school program through the community program.

Matagi-Tofiga is waiting for the proposal from principals for the after school program and this is an extension of the lesson in the classroom. Additionally, the need to emphasize homework — again this is an extension of the lesson in the classroom.

According to the director, all of the schools have data on student achievement and encouraged principals to use the data and all support services that will come out to support them.

During her Senate confirmation hearing last week, Matagi-Tofiga revealed the after school program, using federal funds. She also said that teachers are the “key” to ensuring that students have good grades. “All the support services should be there for the teachers,” she said.

Speaking at the principals meeting, Matagi-Tofiga said, “Nothing you set out to do will be accepted by the teachers, parents and students if they don’t trust you. Being visible in school — in the morning, after school, around the campus — shows you care and are concerned.”

Other issues raised at the meeting were lesson planning, teacher absenteeism, lack of parental support and standardized tests. Principals were also given the chance to share some of their best practices.

According to the director, Secondary Division and Elementary Division are now tasked with following up on concerns raised at the meeting. She expressed her appreciation to principals of Elementary and Secondary Divisions and urged everyone to come together and make a difference.

During her confirmation hearing in both the Senate and the House, Matagi-Tofiga stressed to lawmakers that among the contributing factors to educating students, are school principals and staffers at the main office.

And during a recent meeting with staff, Matagi-Tofiga said she informed them that they couldn’t work in isolation but need to work together with everyone. “If we come together we can make a difference,” she told lawmakers.

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