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ACSA Publication Featuring Loudon Elementary

West Kern’s Sharon Dunn shares her school’s success story during the ACSA (Association of California School Administrators) Mid-State Conference - San Luis Obispo, CA March 8-10, 2019: Article in ACSA Region XI, April 2019 issue:

Breakout sessions on a variety of topics began on Saturday morning and continued throughout the day. Region XI’s Sharon Dunn, Principal at Loudon Elementary School in the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District (PBVUSD), presented with Susan Hall Ed.D., CEO and Co-Founder of the 95 Percent Group. Dunn shared her school’s story of success in reading achievement in Against All Odds! Overcoming Implementation Challenges in Literacy MTSS. 

The team addressed the question, “How does a principal or district literacy leader get staff to fully implement literacy intervention and effective core instruction with fidelity?” Dunn led her elementary school to improve DIBELS (Acadience) scores from below 30% to above 90% in just a few years. Co-presenter, Dr. Susan Hall shared a fidelity checklist and lessons learned as a consultant coaching principals and district cabinet members on what and how to monitor for full implementation of MTSS.

Dunn highlighted four essential questions; do we believe it is the purpose of our school(s) to ensure that all students learn at high levels? Do we acknowledge that students learn at different rates and with different levels of support? Have we created a schedule that guarantees students will receive additional opportunities for learning, in a systematic way, regardless of who the teacher might be? She emphasized Rick DuFour’s, “Don’t tell me you believe ‘all kids can learn’… tell me what you’re doing about the kids who aren’t learning,” stressing the point, that instructional leaders’ response to this statement is vital. She focused on five key components to implementation of effective RTI/MTSS: problem solving, universal screening, intervention, progress monitoring, and intervention efficacy and fidelity.

Dunn shared her school’s journey of success of providing hope for the future — against all odds — with Loudon Elementary being a high poverty school (88%). When she first gathered universal screener data using DIBELS (Acadience), the data revealed her kindergarten students ended the year lower in the reading skills each student must master to become a proficient reader than at the beginning of the year. This was the turning point for searching out effective materials and processes to improve student achievement at Loudon Elementary. It wasn’t until Dunn attended the National Title 1 Conference where she met Dr. Hall. It was then and there she found the key missing element — diagnostic screeners aligned with instructional materials and a continuum of skills allowing teachers to begin instruction at a student’s lowest skill deficit (95% Group).

Loudon students have continually improved in reading proficiency year after year. Loudon’s CAASPP ELA scores have risen to join the highest performing schools in PBVUSD according to the California Smarter Balanced Test Results/California School Dashboard showing growth of 13.98% from 2017 to 2018; truly making a difference and creating hope for the future for Loudon students.

The keynote speaker during lunch and the second general session was Edwin Javius, Founder/President/CEO of ED Equity, Inc., an educational consultant firm. Javius’ definition of equity is “identifying and eradicating barriers within the system that prohibit excellence in adults and student outcomes.” He said schools are a microcosm of society and suggested seven steps for excellence and equity, to build capacity by engaging teacher leaders.