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Salem Ave. to mentor school in Frederick

November 14, 2000

Salem Ave. to mentor school in Frederick



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


The state Department of Education is counting on Salem Avenue Elementary to mentor a Frederick County Title I school in an effort to boost academic excellence among poor students, according to the state.

Salem Avenue, also a Title I school, has received recognition from the state Department of Education for various achievements, including improved test scores and increased attendance.

It also was named a state and national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 1998 and 1999. The designation is considered by educators to be the highest honor a school can receive.

"We're looking forward to learning some of the things they have been able to use to achieve goals for student achievement," said Stephanie Brown, principal at South Frederick Elementary.

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The two schools will work together under the new two-year Maryland Title I Partner Schools Program that helps poor kids keep pace academically with wealthier kids. Twenty-one schools have been selected to participate in the program.

"The point behind it was to really find schools that have very similar demographics and similar issues," said Linda Bazerjian, communications specialist for the state Department of Education.

The schools' staffs will meet regularly in brainstorming, planning, sharing and data-analysis sessions until 2002.

Brown said South Frederick staff have already visited Salem Avenue three times since the program began in September. Staff members at Salem Avenue will visit next week.

"We have the opportunity to share instructional strategies, to observe teachers and to collaborate on best practices to improve student achievement," Brown said. "So far we have been very pleased."

David Unruh, Salem Avenue principal, said the experience will also be a learning experience for his school.

"We're excited about the sharing opportunities and perhaps helping another school and what we can learn from them," he said.

He said South Frederick hopes to increase state test scores 20 percentage points, while Salem Avenue plans to increase 10 percentage points by the end of the program.

Third-graders at the schools, who will take MSPAPs this year, will keep in contact with each other through e-mail or regular mail.

Title I is a federally funded program that provides financial assistance for low-achieving students in high-poverty schools to help meet high standards of performance.

It promotes instructional strategies that increase the amount and quality of learning time for at-risk children.

Many Title I schools use their funding to provide before, after and summer school programs, promote professional development opportunities for school staff and promote parental and community involvement.

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