February 16, 2021
by: Special Contribution to the Étude Group
Etude Group has been awarded its fourth charter with the Sheboygan Area School District, which means the elementary, middle and high schools can continue meeting and exceeding their goals for another five years.
The vote to approve the charter, which came in November, underscores the group’s overall message: that it is educating students well, it’s stable and consistent and it’s providing an important piece of the array of educational options available at SASD.
“We want our parents, students and the community to know that we are constantly working to achieve the goals we’ve agreed to with the district,” said Director Ted Hamm. “We’re happy to get the OK to keep moving forward and very proud of our kids and teachers for their great work.”
The new charter was based on how well the group did over the past five years on the goals it set for each level – elementary, middle and high school.
Etude High School met most of the goals set out in its 2016-21 contract and continues to work on areas that need improvement. The results over the past five years show that math scores – though not meeting district averages consistently – are on the upswing and the ELA (English Language Arts) are among the best in the district.
Reports on the standardized scores predictably don’t include scores from the 2019-20 year because those exams were canceled due to the pandemic shutdown.
“The disruption of their routine is significant, and the disruption of personal connection,” Hamm said. “Etude is about personal connection.”
What the students are learning, however, will last them well beyond this unsettling period. At the beginning of the pandemic, Hamm said he saw a significant drop off in student attendance when the school went all online. Since then, though, it’s turned around.
“But what we’re starting see is now is they’re starting to pick themselves up, they’re starting to be more resilient in terms of dealing with these things,” Hamm said. “These skills are really going to help them in terms of dealing with adversity. I think what students are starting to realize is a sense of self-efficacy, the confidence that they can do this.”
In addition, video conferencing will probably become the norm for the next generation of professionals, Hamm said, so online schooling is good training.
Learning from the challenges of the pandemic shutdown isn’t limited to the high school, of course.
Etude Middle School students are learning the same lessons as they continue to meet benchmarks.
The school also met most of its goals from the previous contract, and Hamm pointed out the tremendous strides students have made in proficiency in that time.
Middle school scores have been going up district-wide, he said, and Etude is doing great in that area, particularly in math.
“We aligned the math curriculum with the elementary math curriculum, putting more focus on mathematic thinking,” Hamm said. “I think that’s been a significant improvement. In ELA, we’re using a project-based approach in all courses, allowing students to integrate reading and writing across the curriculum. I think that is what is helping our reading and ELA scores improve.”
The elementary school, to no one’s surprise, met every goal in the contract.
“The main message is the project-based learning, the integrated arts projects we do at the elementary school are working,” Hamm said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The school’s success proves something the people at Etude have known all along.
“Kids can learn in an engaging way and still score well on standardized tests,” Hamm said. “These are great projects, and yeah, this is the way kids should learn.”