Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Moorhead receives education grant

The Moorhead School District has received a $50,000 grant to implement a program to boost student achievement through early intervention in elementary school.

The Moorhead School District has received a $50,000 grant to implement a program to boost student achievement through early intervention in elementary school.

The program, known as Response to Interventions, is a process focused on responding to students' needs. The goal is to prevent failure, rather than react to it.

"The idea is you intervene early with different kinds of interventions targeted to the child's needs," said Jill Skarvold, district director of Learner Support Services.

Moorhead was one of five school districts in the state to receive the grant from the state Department of Education to implement the plan.

The program is a requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and reauthorization of the special education law. Moorhead will serve as a pilot site for other districts in the state.


"To us, it became important that we be a part of tailoring something rather than having it dictated to us later," Skarvold said.

Teachers will focus on reading and literacy, but a similar plan could be used for mathematics, said Lynne Kovash, district assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

Skarvold said 80 percent of the kids who are referred to child study, which is the first step in determining special education placement, are done so because of reading problems.

"Most of those kids have reading difficulties rather than learning disabilities," she said, "so we need to be able to intervene early to help them make progress in their reading rather than having it eventually become so discrepant that they become in essence, severely disabled in reading."

The plan includes periodic monitoring where data is collected to see if the interventions are working. The information is analyzed, and instructional strategies are developed based on student need.

It's about making sure students have a good educational foundation before referring them to other kinds of supplemental services like special education, Skarvold said.

"It's giving us those really strong conversations that we need to have as educators about how we instruct and what we use for instruction," Kovash said.

The district will use the grant to provide teachers with professional development opportunities, collaboration time and academic coaching.


The district is also working with Minnesota State University Moorhead to start a reading institute tailored toward the needs of district teachers.

"I believe it's going to pay tremendous dividends" to reach students early on, said School Board Member Mike Siggerud.

School Board member Bill Tomhave said he likes the plan because it takes a proactive rather than a reactive approach.

"That notion that don't wait till the boat's going down, let's fix it while it's fixable, that's critical," he said.

The one-year grant is renewable up to five years.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

What To Read Next
Get Local