Heights schools superintendent explains new initiatives at FutureHeights forum
“The best places to live in America have great public schools,” said Douglas Heuer, superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District. “There’s a symbiotic relationship between the two.”
Heuer addressed a crowd of community members at a FutureHeights speaker series event on Sept. 13.
He spoke of the many challenges Heights schools face in striving to create great schools “Tests that kindergarteners take at the beginning of the year show that 60 percent of Heights students entering kindergarten are not ready. They don’t have the basic building blocks needed to begin reading,” said Heuer. “This correlates with 61.2 percent of Heights school children who are eligible for free and reduced cost lunch.”
“Heights schools make tremendous strides with these kids,” Heuer said. “By the time they are tested in the third grade, 70 percent of students are reading at grade level. The bad news is, however, that 30 percent are still behind, and if students aren’t caught up by then, they will likely not be able to do so without expensive interventions.”
The solution, according to Heuer, is to strive for 100% of children reading at grade level by third grade. Heuer spoke about two initiatives Heights schools are undertaking to reach this goal: expanding the preschool programs and performance grouping for reading. This year, the district has expanded its preschool program, which had been located solely at Gearity Elementary School, to Noble Elementary School. “Noble preschool already has a waiting list,” said Heuer.
Also new this year, are reading performance groups for first, second and third graders. The district has reallocated resources to bring in extra reading teachers to work with smaller groups of students, who are grouped based on their reading instruction needs. “Every test is essentially a reading test,” said Heuer. “If you can’t read and understand the problem, you won’t be able to do the math.”
To learn more about Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools, visit www.chuh.org.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.