Opp BOE hears plan to up test scores, mastery

Published 12:59 am Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Opp Board of Education met with representatives from the Opp Middle School and Opp Elementary School on Wednesday to discuss progress in test scores for students.

More importantly, the principals about what they could do to fix shortcomings in students’ test scores.

Each school tests in the first semester of the school year and uses that data to measure improvement.

At the elementary school, 12 percent of second grade students were up to par with their grade level teachings, and by February 47 percent of students were passing for the year.

For kindergarteners, the score in August was 5 percent and in February was 57 percent.

“What we’re doing at the elementary school is trying to increase reading scores. We’ve started a new program, it’s called Walk to Read and that is one hour of leveled reading. We started this with kindergarten and second graders,” Principal Shawn Short said.

Christy Harrell, the assistant principal, said that students with problems in reading will receive more help from teachers in smaller groups.

“We also implemented Leadership Notebooks that allow students to make their own goals and track their goals,” Harrell said.

Along with that, bulletin boards are posted throughout the school that show student data for each of their classes.

For Opp Middle School, testing showed that advanced placement (AP) students weren’t showing growth, whereas RTI (Response to Intervention) students were showing improvement. RTI students are students who are struggling with a skill or lesson.

Nothing was based on grades, but rather ability levels.

“We’re not talking about increasing grades. We needed to help them with their ability levels,” Sharon Spurlin said.

“I noticed that with AP students the data was not where we wanted it to be.”

Spurlin said that time had to be carefully divided into what couldn’t be cut from curriculum and what could be.

“We need to spend as much time in reading and math and we also had to have time for history,” she said.

“Each day we have “club time” for around 40 minutes,” Spurlin said.

They implemented a program that uses “club time” for sessions geared toward improving math and reading skills.

Monday through Thursday the individual groups will meet with teachers, while on Friday there will be Club Time.

“The teachers developed the schedules with each other and coordinated so that English teachers would get with social studies and science teachers and help with the content to teach students. Experts of that specific subject would teach the higher level group.”

An individualized plan for each student was developed.

“We’re hoping to give AP students something more challenging while maintaining progression from the RTF students,” Spurlin said.

Superintendent Michael Smithart said that there is a misconception about grading.

“A lot of time grades are based on compliance. Maybe soon as a board and a school system we should look at standards-based report cards.”

Standards-based report cards provide more consistency between teachers than traditional report cards because all students are evaluated on the same grade-level skill.

In other business, the board:

  • awarded the bid for roof replacement on selected buildings at Opp High School to True South Construction Inc.. The buildings are the old childcare building, the maintenance department and the IT department. It will cost a total of $44,336.80 to replace.
  • met in closed session for 50 minutes with their attorney. Board members only said they were going in to closed session to discuss someone’s “good name and character.” The superintendent did not participate in the closed session.