OCS earns cash for test scores

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

OES students Callie Caldwell and Nora Rose Hollinghead read a book. | File photo

Two schools in Covington County are being recognized with cash awards for good test scores.

Opp Elementary and Opp Middle schools will each receive a $1,005 award for making significant strides in improving their test scores as part of the annual yearly progress (AYP).

The awards, which are encouraged under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, go to schools where students, particularly minorities, exceed state averages in test scores and where a vast majority of students come from families that are poor.

While the $2,000 isn’t a significant amount, school officials said it’s about the honor of receiving it.

“We know it isn’t a lot (of money), but it’s better than nothing,” said Emily Edgar, assistant superintendent with the Opp City School System. “The award shows our schools and teachers are doing a lot of work in those areas.”

Aaron Hightower, OMS principal, said his school was rewarded for reducing the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students by at least 15 percent.

“What it all boils down to is teachers being willing to (utilize) strategic learning and to try and do things different with their instruction to increase student engagement, which will in turn, increase student achievement,” Hightower said. “The tutors, too, that are helping these kids as well during the day to get those skills they need to be successful in the real world.”

Hightower said he was excited to see his students “live up to those expectations.”

“I’m a true believer that if you can put expectation before kids, and give them resources to achieve those expectations, they will do it,” he said. “We have to continue to get better academically and continue to work hard, but I believe our teachers have done a great job of using resources we have to pinpoint areas of concern and help with student achievement.”

Brett Kinsaul, OES principal, said he was pleased with his school’s achievement.

“It shows how hard our students and staff have worked,” he said. “I can’t say how proud we are enough.”