Two Glasgow elementary schools were asked by the Glasgow Board of Education on Monday night to report on what they were doing to improve their CATS scores.

Highland Elementary showed significant gaps between males and females in the areas of social studies, math, reading, arts and humanities, and writing.

“Our males outperformed our females significantly (in those areas),” said Kelly Oliver, principal, who could not explain the phenomenon. “In most cases where there is a gap in gender, you are going to see females outperforming males.”

And that was the case for Highland two years ago, but now it has reversed.

“Some of the things we did to address that was we initiated more competitive games, AR (accelerated reader), we gave more incentives and we know that boys like competition and we fed into that whole gender stuff,” she said.

Highland also had Chad Muhlenkamp teaching fifth grade reading.

“He introduced a lot of male-type adolescent literature and I also think introduction of technology into the classroom was no small factor,” Oliver said. “Boys are visual learners. Studies show that and I know that technology kind of feeds into it.”

Even though the school has a gender gap in its tests scores, she was quick to say that all students are doing well. The gender gap is something Oliver said she and her staff intend to keep their eyes on to make sure they are working as hard as they can to get all of their students where they need to be.

Applying more of a focus on writing instruction is one thing they are doing to try to close the gaps.

“We know what is good for a targeted group is usually good for all,” she said. “So, in every content area on a regular basis we are providing that intense writing instruction and it is unified throughout the building so we know that what is happening in kindergarten meets first, second and on up through fifth.”

South Green Elementary, on the other hand, showed significant gaps in students with disabilities versus students with non-disabilities in the subject area of math.

“It’s an area that we’ve been working on for several years. We did significant improvements, but we still got a ways to go,” said Bill Philbeck, principal.

One reason for the gap is an increasing number of students who fall into those categories. Another reason is the school is struggling to meet the needs of all students who fall into those categories.

Philbeck explained that South Green may have one student with a specific disability.

“So you are having to gear a completely separate individualized program for a child with that disability and it puts a strain on our resources,” he said. “It’s very tough. We’ve seen improvements. Our school’s scores are actually better than what they have been, but it’s just not where we need them to be.”

To improve those areas, Philbeck is making sure his staff is spending more one-on-one time with the students and works more closely with parents.

Bill Sadler, school board member, commended both schools on a job well done.

“Both schools are tremendous. I couldn’t be prouder of them. They are doing a tremendous job,” he said.

He also commented on Highland’s gap between males and females.

Having such a gap that is opposite of what other schools across the state are facing is going to be difficult for Highland, he said, because the school’s staff isn’t going to have very many people they can go to ask for assistance in closing that type of gap.

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