The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

September 30, 2012

Educators work on improving schools

By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer

Sunday, September 30, 2012 — The Stanly County Board of Education met Monday and Tuesday nights at Albemarle High School for the purpose of presenting school improvement plans.    

Representatives from various Stanly County Schools and school system departments planned and presented their ideas for school improvement to members of the school board.

These representatives moved about different classrooms making their presentations to the board members therein. Board members were to look for three components in the presentations: Does the plan reflect that data was reviewed in order to identify focus areas? Where was the focus of student growth data (math, reading, etc.)?  And, are the goals specific, realistic and measurable?

All of Stanly County schools presented their plans, as did the Curriculum and Student Services Division and the Technology and Research Support Services department at the board of education.

The Curriculum and Student Services Division presented on Monday night.

Dr. Sandra Carter noted that this department will focus on the MSL (Measure of Student Learning) tests this year. Typically, for a state-required course there is an EOG test, an end of grade/course test, that measures cumulative knowledge  throughout the school year. The MSLs are similar in this regard, except they are for all the other classes without a state-required testing component – the elective courses.

Furthermore, Carter spoke about the EVAAS (Education Value Added Assessment System) evaluation tool available to teachers. This application allows one to map a student’s progress by providing a depth of information to custom tailor an educational regime. EVAAS data will show how to help each student reach their potential.

The Technology and Research Support Services Department presented as well on Monday. This department noted that they needed to improve on network uptime, or, in other words, to keep the network online more often. This department also reported that Stanly County schools will potentially be leaving behind their eSIS program for the Pearson’s PowerSchool program. This program will provide a more user-friendly format for teachers to keep track of grades and attendance.

Albemarle High School (AHS) Principal Karen Nixon presented for her school on Monday night. Nixon detailed that last year the school met 17 out of its 20 goals,  making it a School of High Growth. AHS also boasted 24 North Carolina Scholars last year. Additionally, 75 percent of the AHS student population participated in the Accelerated Reader program, a program situated around improving student literacy. Lastly, this year AHS will offer tutoring to all students before or after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

South Stanly High School (SSHS) presented on Tuesday. SSHS plans to improve their school by several methods. SSHS will increase its overall growth in Biology 1, Algebra 1 and English 2 by two percent in each area through utilizing supplemental instructional resources and tutoring. SSHS is implementing a Bring Your Own Device to school program that will allow students to use their smart devices for instructional purposes at designated times.

“Lots of students have smart phones: they have all these gidgets and gadgets, and that’s okay. We can fight against the wave or we can find a way we can use it instructionally,” said SSHS Principal Shawn Britt.

Their second goal is to reduce the drop-out rate by identifying and tracking at-risk students, as well as implementing a peer mentoring program that would partner successful upperclassmen with entering freshmen. Their last goal is to establish clear communication among schools, parents, and students with 90 percent agreeing on effectiveness through using SSHS website, other online resources and encouraging parent and student feedback.

North Stanly Middle School (NSMS) presented plans for school improvement on Tuesday. Principal Ann Watson and Assistant Principal Terri Crocker spoke on behalf of their school, elaborating on two ways that they believed they could improve NSMS.

They want to increase the number of students who make growth during the school year and to do this, they will use their Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, implement an advisor/advisee program at the beginning of each school day and utilize a contract for promotion that will stipulate the behavior and assignment requirements for students to be promoted to the next grade level. Furthermore, NSMS wants to reduce the numbers of incidents at the school to below 1,000 as measured by NCWISE data. To do this, the school has re-evaluated their list for office referrals, eliminating overly strict policies.

Oakboro Elementary Principal Julie McSwain and SIT Chairman Chad Whitley presented on Tuesday as well.

Whitley opened by saying, “We want our students to realize that learning is a life long process.”

Oakboro’s plan for improvement is three-fold. Goal one will be to increase student performance in all subgroups based off the state’s Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs). To do this, they will have their K-5 and EC teachers participate in Reading Mastery and Corrective Reading programs, as well as utilizing online resources. For their second goal, Oakboro plans to increase student performance in all subgroups for math based off AMOs. Teachers will create a curriculum map that will assist them in explaining class objectives to their students.

Lastly, Oakboro will improve by ensuring students are computer proficient based off the North Carolina Standards for Computer Skills. To do this, teachers will develop lessons utilizing and integrating technology, as well as completing a skill set inventory that makes sure students have learned the correct lessons.

The board of education will use these plans to evaluate each school in the county on its effectiveness at improving their education program based off of quantifiable data.

The board of education will gather for their next regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 2.