Making the Grade: Pear Park Elementary

By: Therese O'Shea Email
By: Therese O'Shea Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Small groups in the classroom might not seem revolutionary. But it's the only way Pear Park Elementary has done things since the school opened five years ago. Their above average proficiency numbers go to show that they practically have the small group technique down to a science.

Pear Park Elementary approaches the three "R"s, reading, writing, and 'rithmatic, with two big words: personal attention.

"Every child has different needs and if we don't take the opportunity to meet and have an academic learning opportunity with every child throughout the day then we don't know what they're understanding and not understanding,” says Pear Park Elementary School principal Cheri Taylor.

That's why every class in Pear Park works in small groups for reading, writing, and math.

"We start it in kindergarten, so all of the kids know when the teachers working with a small group, that's an important time for the teacher,” says Taylor.

By the time students get up to Miss West’s class in fourth grade, they've mastered the small group technique.

"So they don't have that pressure of the whole group as opposed to just like five or six kids,” says Jenne West, fourth grade teacher.

Students are grouped based on their personal needs at the beginning of the year, and they rotate throughout the day to different stations. While some students meet with their teacher, others are working independently.

"We have very tight structures in place, so that when the teachers working in small groups with her students, the other students know exactly what they're supposed to be doing,” says Taylor.

Even at a young age, Pear Park students see the value in working closely with their teacher.

"It helps everybody that's at a certain reading level get better at reading,” says fourth grade student Meah Tavera.

The proof is in the numbers. In an assessment from District 51, Pear park students' proficiency in reading, writing, and math are much higher than the rest of the district, as well as state percentages. The chart shows that Pear Park third graders are 79.2 percent proficient in reading, compared to 72.8 percent in the state, and 70.1 percent in the district.

Their hope is that Pear Park students will be well ahead of the game by the time they go on to middle school.


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