Austintown Middle keeps Momentum for four years

Austintown Middle School principal Robin Vickers said not just one practice, but a collaborative effort between teachers, lead the school to earning state Momentum Award for the fourth consecutive year.

AUSTINTOWN — Austintown Middle School Principal Robin Vickers said there’s no one secret to the student success that has earned the school the Momentum Award from the Ohio Department of Education for four consecutive years.

“It isn’t just one thing,” said Vickers. “Truly, in the end, it comes down to our fantastic teachers.”

The award recognizes schools that have exceeded expectation in student growth for the year. Schools that make the cut must earn As in all value-added subgroups on the state report card, which includes gifted, lowest 20 percent in achievement, and students with disabilities, according to the Ohio Department of Education website.

Vickers said to determine “expectations” and which schools are exceeding them, the state used student test scores and compares schools to similar districts.

Vickers said a part of Austintown Middle’s success over the past four years has to do with identifying and responding to students’ needs.

“We look at student data every week,” said Vickers.

She said the school has two full-time intervention specialists for reading and math, and special education teachers who co-teach with regular language arts and math teachers. The special education teachers split the responsibility of those classes with the other teachers, which Vickers said is beneficial to students with and without disabilities.

“Any room that has two teachers is going to be beneficial,” Vickers said. “It’s working for us, so we keep the structure.”

Another group analyzed in the Momentum award is gifted students.

“How do you get a gifted student to grow? It’s very difficult,” Vickers said. She said teachers who have identified gifted students in their classes attend training focused on helping students grow. Students are provided with resources and enrichment.

“This is a lot of people doing everything we can to help the kids,” Vickers said.

Other Mahoning County schools that earned the Momentum Award this year are C. H. Campbell Elementary in Canfield, Campbell Elementary, and Fitch High School, as well as Jackson-Milton Middle School and West Branch Middle School, which have earned the award multiple times in recent years.