SIM interventions make a difference on the Fort Peck Reservation, home to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes.

Greetings from Wolf Point, Montana!

Leadership Team Members
Wolf Point Leadership Team members Patrice MacDonald, Kim Hanks (principal), Melissa Cromwell and Carla McGill. (Patricia Toaves not pictured)

Wolf Point Junior and Senior High Schools have experienced many of the challenges encountered by other school districts on reservations*. A well-crafted application that focused on raising achievement scores led to their inclusion in the Montana Striving Readers state grant in 2010. Through this grant, SIM professional developers were invited to collaborate with the schools to assess and set priorities and develop a multi-year improvement plan.

Focused on improving core instruction in Tier 1 of Montana’s Multi-tiered System of Support, the administration and teachers embraced the Content Enhancement Routines. Various routines were implemented as a consistent school-wide daily instruction approach along with the SIM writing strategies, and active engagement strategies. The junior high also implemented Success for All reading strategies while the high school implemented particular SIM reading strategies. Despite frequent staff turnover, the schools’ commitment to these powerful instructional tools significantly improved instruction and increased achievement.

A retired Wolf Point elementary principal, who was hired as a Striving Readers Grant consultant, remarked during classroom walk-throughs that she was pleased to see so many teachers engaging in powerful instruction that changed their teaching so dramatically. She noted that teachers were effectively teaching and engaging students in meaningful learning.

Although the students’ demographics and circumstances remained the same, overall achievement data improved significantly. When they were accepted for the Striving Readers grant, both the junior and senior high schools were among the lowest performing schools in Montana in overall achievement, reading, math, ACT scores, graduation rates, and other measures. By 2017, both schools had demonstrated marked improvement in reading, writing, and other literacy standards.

Members of the Wolf Point Electives Professional Learning Community (art, music, industrial tech, PE)
Members of the Wolf Point Electives Professional Learning Community (art, music, industrial tech, PE)

Wolf Point Junior and Senior High Schools have established some new habits that include more collaboration, leadership, data based decision making, community events and more participation beyond sports activities. The schools now have a Leadership Team, Professional Learning Communities, SIM Professional Developers, and digital student data portfolios.

Bev Colombo
Collaborative Work Consultant
St. Louis, MO

Originally published in SIM 30x30+ more stories of success, hope, and innovation (2017, 30x30+9).