Collaboration is the name of the game at Ysleta Elementary School in El Paso, Texas. For five years, teachers, administrators, parents, and representatives from community organizations have been involved in restructuring the school to improve students' academic achievement. They are working to integrate technology, align the curriculum across grades, increase professional accountability and interaction, and offer students the support they need to succeed.
In 1995, the school was organized into vertical teams composed of teachers and students from kindergarten through sixth grade. The teachers from each team meet regularly to discuss problems, develop strategies, and plan coherent curriculum for the students who remain in their charge throughout their years at Ysleta. Within these teams, called "families," students progress from grade to grade learning from each other and from teachers who know them well.
Ysleta receives support from the El Paso Collaborative, an organization dedicated to systemwide academic reform from kindergarten to college. The El Paso Collaborative, in turn, is part of a national collaborative, the Education Trust, dedicated to the same goals. The collaborative is working with Ysleta educators to establish standards and develop scoring guides to assess academic achievement across the grades. Ysleta's teachers, administrators, and parents participate in meetings sponsored by the collaborative where educators focus on topics such as: "Math: From Kindergarten to College."
Susana Navarro, director of the collaborative, says: "I've seen secondary teachers learn strategies from elementary educators, and elementary teachers reexamine their practice when middle school teachers found they were having to re-teach too much."