Educators study ways to improve

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 22, 2011

Educators in Opp City Schools are using any means necessary to improve their reading and math scores, officials said this week.

To achieve this feat, officials are implementing continuous improvement plans, which serve as a blueprint for improving student achievement and overall assessment.

The plan, which is developed by a committee comprised of administrators, teachers, special service teachers, parents and community representatives, uses all available data to develop academic goals, and set forth action plans for achievement.

Edgar said one of those goals is increase math scores.

“A common academic goal that both OES and OMS are working to improve student achievement is in the area of mathematics,” she said. “Our goal is to decrease the percentage of students in grades three through eight not meeting baseline proficiency on the ARMT.”

And educators are seeing improvements in math.

For example, last year’s sixth graders improved to 60 percent of students scoring high, which was up from only 45 percent the year before.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, assistant principal Shawn Short said improvement plans are doing what they were designed to do.

OMS principal Aaron Hightower said the school is focusing on 21st Century learning, which he describes as more than just handing students a book, pencil and paper.

“We can no longer stick just a book, pencil and paper in front of the students and expect them to be engaged,” he said. “Our goal is to increase student engagement through strategic learning such as turn and talk where the students talk to one another about the objective they just learned. Another is exit slips, where the students write on paper and then leave. The teacher then evaluates how much the student understands. We also use graphic organizers.

“It’s challenging,” he said. “But if you’re going to move from good to great, you’re going to have to change.”

OES principal Brett Kinsaul said that their goal is to get as many of their students as possible above-average.

“Average is just as close to the bottom as the top,” he said. “You have to have a plan to know where you’re going.”

Kinsaul said their goal is to get students to achieve high marks in math and science.

In order to do that, teachers have begun using STI assessment with grades three and four to check for proficiency of standards.

Edgar said both OMS and OES have been working on these goals for the past two years.

“Obviously, it is our desire for those who are not proficient to become proficient, but also for those that are to become more proficient at an even higher level,” she said.