January 27, 2016 // Uncategorized

Our Lady of Hungary recognized by NWEA for academic progress

An Our Lady of Hungary student stands beneath the school banner.

By Tim Johnson

SOUTH BEND — Our Lady of Hungary School in South Bend has received national recognition by the Northwest Evaluation Association for the school’s successful academic progress and professional development.

At the urging of Our Lady of Hungary pastor, Father Kevin Bauman, a former University of Notre Dame professor, and Principal Kevin Goralczyk, the school partnered with the NWEA beginning in 2014. With guidance of the NWEA, the school saw significant changes during their first year using Measures of Academic Progress interim assessments, Children’s Progress Academic Assessment early learning skills assessment, and NWEA professional development focused on classroom formative assessment strategies. Student growth accelerated, teachers’ skills strengthened, and students become more engaged with their personal learning journeys.

NWEA recognized Our Lady of Hungary for utilizing a program to change the way teachers taught in the classroom.

Goralczyk told Today’s Catholic, “When I came to Our Lady of Hungary, one of the first things we needed to do was have a common assessment so we could measure our students’ progress. NWEA offered such a program that was systematic and sustainable.”

Goralczyk said, “They offer an educational approach of working with students to gain an understanding of more complex questions, which lead to high order thinking skills that are needed by students.”

“We are in the midst of this change but the results are very promising and heading in a positive direction,” Goralczyk said. “There was a need for our staff to address the particular needs of our students who are predominately poor, inner-city, and first generation American educated students. This outreach is what Our Lady of Hungary Parish is all about. Since the founding of the parish, we have been in direct service to immigrant populations. Whether it be the Eastern Europeans or the Hispanic peoples.”

“Our staff understood this need and we got total ‘buy-in’ from them with implementing not only the assessments but how to teach and reteach the students where gaps appeared in their individual learning,” he added.

“I am particularly proud of the success that our students have shown on the assessments because of the way the teachers are now preparing them,” Goralczyk said.

Middle school teacher Melissa Wroblewski said of the mapping of students’ progress, “We anticipated classes being below the test’s national norms. Some were slightly below, a lot of other were way below. But as the year went on, the kids became more invested and the teachers became more invested and changed up their teaching practices.”

By spring, everyone’s MAP (Measures of Academic Progress interim assessments) scores grew.

“To go from starting the year behind to showing double-digit growth was amazing — a great thing to celebrate,” Wroblewski said.

She said because of the professional development training the teachers have received from NWEA, many teachers have adjusted teaching styles so they can better meet the needs of all students and reach each student at his or her learning level.

“Due to the changes in instructional methods, the students are showing more individual growth, which is making the NWEA MAP test results increase,” Wroblewski said. “Differentiating what and how the students learn has become the driving force behind the rising test scores at Our Lady.”

Fifth-grade teacher Kari Wuszke said the opportunity to learn more about formative assessments during the past year or so “has benefitted me personally and professionally.”

“I have been able to utilize data more fully because it provides pertinent information to help me build better instruction in my classroom so that I can better serve the needs of all of my students,” Wuszke said. “What has been most gratifying has been the knowledge mind-shift of the students as they have become more aware of their own progress and have begun to take more and more ownership of their schooling. With this shift comes positive growth and that has been a really cool thing for us!”

“This is how you change a culture. We educate our students and empower them to believe that they can achieve excellence,” Goralczyk noted. “Nothing is beyond our students capability.”

Father Bauman told Today’s Catholic, “I strongly recommend NWEA because of the superior professional development that it offered to our faculty.”

“Faithful to our parish charism, Our Lady of Hungary School has empowered the immigrant poor through education,” Father Bauman said. “Now we are doing it even better, crossing the borders of language, culture and religion in ways that make better sense to those we serve.”

He added, “From the beginning Our Lady of Hungary school has remained faithful to our founding spirit: a haven for the immigrant poor, struggling to grow and prosper in this great country. We do this by offering the finest education possible albeit in the setting of a poor inner city parish.”






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