Bremen celebrates AYP success

BREMEN – When Bremen Elementary-Middle School Principal Larry Yelaska heard the news that his school made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in all 25 categories for the first time since 2006, he was not surprised.
“I was relieved,” he said. “But I was not surprised. I’m very proud of AYP, but I’m more proud of all the things going on in the classroom every day. Our teachers and students have worked hard and significant achievements were made throughout the school year.”
Adequate Yearly Progress is a federal requirement that stems from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The goal? To have all students meet grade-level standards in language arts and math by 2014.
For elementary and middle schools, AYP is based on participation and performance of students in grades 3-8 in the English and Math portions of ISTEP+, IMAST and ISTAR. Attendance rate is also a factor.
“We have made AYP in 25 out of 25 categories. We well exceeded the target pass percentage in most categories,” Yelaska said.
He was proud of the extra effort put in by his staff throughout the year 
“Last year was a big year, with the 8-Step Process, Swoop groups and RTI. Our teachers had to juggle their schedules and get creative. It was a lot of work. But on top of implementing these new processes, the teachers still got it done,” Yelaska said.
Superintendent Russ Mikel agreed.
“We’ve asked a lot of them, and they’ve come through. Overall, the staff has worked really hard the last couple of years. They’ve been very focused on the kids and the specific skills they need. I see significant improvement overall. Kudos to the staff – all of them – everybody plays an important role.”
Students and parents also played a key role.
“We did test talks and explained the test to them,” Yelaska said. “The kids really put forth an effort and the parents really supported it.”
Bremen Elementary-Middle School made AYP in 2006, but failed to make the grade in 2007 and 2008. After not making AYP for two consecutive years, Title I schools like Bremen enter improvement status, a series of interventions that become more extensive each additional year the school does not make AYP. (In 2009, when state testing transitioned from fall to spring, AYP was not conducted.)
While making AYP for 2010 was a huge stride in the right direction, the school is not in the clear yet. Bremen Elementary-Middle School will have to earn AYP for two consecutive years in order to shake the improvement status and the interventions that go with it.
“The real challenge will be what we do this year,” Mikel said. “I feel strongly we’re headed in the right direction.”
Teachers and staff members were recognized Thursday afternoon with a cake-and-punch reception. Eighth grade math teacher Lana Mark spoke on behalf of the staff.
“There’s no way anyone can ever know all of the extra miles teachers automatically do for all the kids. Last year, I said that the cafeteria was going to have to start serving supper because so many teachers were still here late into the night,” Mark said. “The community needs to realize what a wonderful group of teachers and staff members we have.”