09 Sep A fresh perspective on ZOOM

In a classroom in William Moore Elementary School, fifth-grade students gather to hear more about the new ZOOM School initiative from their teacher, Akemi Madison. Much like her students, Madison is new to the ZOOM School program and she’s also new to Clark County School District.

The Nevada Legislature voted to continue and expand the program for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years allowing CCSD to add Moore Elementary School and 13 others to the successful program. These schools have the highest percentage of students who are limited English proficient.

For Madison, the excitement of her new career as a teacher in CCSD exemplifies her reasons for moving from Los Angeles. After eight years in the trucking industry, Madison sought for change and looked towards her dreams of teaching.

Madison has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA. Applying her business skills to the classroom will augment the additional support ZOOM Schools will receive. Schools in the ZOOM program will provide full-day kindergarten programs, smaller kindergarten class sizes, 17 additional school days beyond the mandated 180 days of instruction and reading centers to support early literacy skills.

The first two years of the ZOOM School program yielded tremendous improvement in student achievement. For example, at the end of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, the majority of students in kindergarten showed 100 percent mastery in literacy skills such as recognizing capital and lowercase letters, letter sounds and writing their first and last names.

“My expectations of my students are now high with this program,” said Madison. “The ZOOM initiative will give my students a little more rigor and challenge to perform at the next level since I am able to integrate other subjects into the program.”

Madison recently attended the iReady conference that had Moore Elementary School teachers reading over what the ZOOM School program entails for the students reading below grade level, such as the ZOOM Reading Centers. Students will read from one book, allowing teachers to better gauge a student’s performance level. From there, teachers can group students according to performance level to have them progress together. In the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, 52 percent of the 3,121 students who received services from the reading centers exited the program showing the ability to read proficiently at grade level.

“Grouping students to get the most out of them so they can get the most out of this learning experience is going to be awesome,” said Madison. “I think it is an amazing concept that will allow students to learn better and keep them engaged. I am excited to get started with the program!”