The New Guy

Veteran Manhattan educator Neil Harvey is the Manhattan High School principal. Harvey has done a little of everything in the school district.

Manhattan Elementary School has been awarded a $15,000 grant for “closing the achievement gap” between its special education and regular education students in the area of English language arts.

Manhattan was chosen by the Montana Office of Public Instruction for the “Closing the Gap Between Student Groups” award, after the school’s gap in measurable performance between the two students groups decreased by 43 percent over the past two years, said Principal Neil Harvey.

The grant will pay for a team of educators from the school to attend the National Association of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) State Program Administrators conference in February.

Harvey attributed Manhattan’s success in “closing the gap” to a strong teaching staff bolstered by Title I support. Title I is the provision of the ESEA that distributes funding to schools and school districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families.

Also integral to Manhattan’s success is its Response to Intervention team, comprising teachers who have been trained to provide early assistance to children who are at risk for or already underperforming for their grade levels. Their support helps classroom teachers provide effective help to students who need it, Harvey said.

Components of RTI include universal screening, early intervention, research-based instructional methods and frequent progress monitoring for children who experience difficulties.

“We’ve had a Response Intervention team here for several years, and feel it’s developed into a strong tool for helping students, especially those with academic struggles,” Harvey said.

The information shared at the NAESPA conference will help teachers build on that success, he added.

“It’s a very strong conference to help guide staff with new information that has been gathered,” he said.