Hosford Middle School nominated for national award

by: David F. Ashton, Because their school was singled out for its continuing achievement, Hosford Middle School Principal Kevin Bacon and Beth Williamson, a Language Arts teacher, team leader, and Title 1 coordinator, have good reason to smile.

From among all schools across the state, Hosford Middle School in Inner Southeast Portland was the one nominated for a national Title I school award this year.

'We're excited about being recognized,' beamed Principal Kevin Bacon, 'for the consistency of our test scores over the last two years. We have the opportunity to send three teachers to the national educational conference in Nashville, Tennessee.'

The Hosford mission, Bacon said, is to provide a learning environment of strong academics and respect by fostering opportunities for creativity, service and exploration, in a community of life-long learners.

'We had a year of dramatic [test score] gains,' continued Bacon. 'And, we've maintained them over the last two years by converting the majority of our Title I [federal educational] funds to hire educational assistants.

'Strategically placing the assistants in classrooms across the curriculum, based on student need, has been crucial to our ability to group students flexibly and conduct ongoing assessments.'

'Five or six years ago we were using all of our funds to buy books,' commented Beth Williamson, a Language Arts teacher, team leader, and Title 1 coordinator. 'All kids need to be confident readers to be successful.'

Eighth grade math teacher and team leader Cheri McIntosh added, 'Title I also supports math education. Our teaching assistants support students who are below the benchmark.'

We ask if the school's success comes from 'teaching to the test'.

McIntosh replied, 'No, we're teaching to the educational standards, not the test questions. We teach the concepts.'

Bacon added, 'We know from our assessments that our students are showing growth in key areas. The teachers are doing more authentic assessments than are provided by the standardized tests.'

Students entering Hosford are rigorously assessed in both math and language arts, Bacon explained. 'Students are placed in math classes by ability, irrespective of grade-level. And, in Language Arts classes, students are flexibly grouped into classes based on reading ability.'

The school's teaching strategies, Bacon went on, are designed to meet the needs of all of its students 'because we know that all students learn differently, and need to be engaged in their learning.'

'We are very proud of our students, staff, and parents,' Bacon said.