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      Keokuk school outdoes itself

      Students at Wells Carey Elementary School in Keokuk. / Photo by: Chad Douglas

      Everything is going well at Wells Carey Elementary School in Keokuk.

      Test scores of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills are up this year compared to a big way.

      Third grade testing in math jumped more than 25% and more than 21% for fourth graders.

      In Reading, third grade jumped 31.5%, and fourth graders jumped 24%.

      So it's time for the students and staff there to celebrate.

      At an all school assembly Monday, students and staff cheered themselves for their success.

      But when the students come to school on Tuesday, it's back to work to make sure those test scores improve this year.

      "We did have a rise in our test scores, but more importantly the children are becoming better thinkers because of some of the things we've been doing at Wells Carey," says Janet O'Bleness.

      Last year, the school was put on a federal watch list as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The staff starting putting their best foot forward and thinking of new ways to improve the school so they could leave the watch list behind this year. One idea that came up was to share the student's personal bests, and that starts at home.

      "Each day they need to come ready to learn and by doing their personal bests, they can do that. If they've had their breakfast and they pay attention and listen, they can learn more," says O'Bleness.

      Now the students are rewarded for outdoing themselves. For example, if a student gets a less than favorable grade on a test, but then next time scores higher, they get a small reward. The hope is with this program, students will compete with themselves and want to do better at school than they did the day before.

      The proficiency tests for the fifth grade class at Wells Carey dropped by a few percentage points this year.

      Teachers say by celebrating personal bests this year, they hope all the students do even better on that assessment test in the spring.