Plans to boost
Published 1:47 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Administrators sayit will take work to improve test scores
By TED STRONG
The Beaufort County Board of Education heard from high-school administrators Monday night about their plans to boost test scores across the county.
Washington High School’s principal, Russell Holloman, was blunt in his assessment of the school.
He said the school is giving Algebra I teachers more flexibility so that students in a classroom aren’t all taught in exactly the same way.
He also said the positive-behavior system his school is using is helping to keep students in class and out of his office.
The new system encourages teachers to handle smaller matters in the classroom, and it gives administrators more information when disciplinary issues are referred to them, he said.
Students are also being sent to an after-school, study-skills session before being sent to in-school suspension for nonclassroom-related issues, he said.
He said that only four of 76 teachers at Washington High School “left for greener pastures” after the 2007-2008 school year, a statistic he called an improvement.
He also said the school is working to improve its graduation rate by fostering connections between teachers and parents.
Board member Theresa Banks said she believes her children are safe at the school.
Mary Beth Jackson, an assistant principal at Northside High School, told the board about the school’s new Plug Into Rural Life initiative, which features activities like gardening and construction linked to regular classroom subjects.
For example, the school is working to build a model of the cabin in which Henry Thoreau lived near Walden Pond.
Jackson said the problem with test scores isn’t present across all sections.
Board member Cindy Winstead is worried about test scores almost across the board, she said.
Board member H.E. Boyd asked if the school had a drug problem, but Jackson said while drugs are in almost every school, Northside isn’t particularly bad.
Board Chairman Robert Belcher said, “If you look at Washington High School and Northside, both of them have some work to do.”
Principal Rick Anderson of Southside High School told the board that he inherited the plan he presented when he took over leadership of the school.
It contains some elements he likes and others he will likely change in the years to come, Anderson said.
He said state-testing scores highlighted areas that need improvement.
He also said that a 51-percent proficiency in U.S. history is “not acceptable.”
Southside is definitely following the state’s curriculum, and he is working to limit “hobby teaching,” Anderson said. “Hobby teaching” refers to instructors’ tendency to spend more time on subjects they enjoy, thereby short-changing other portions of the curriculum, he said.
Anderson is also working on a reward system for students, and trying to mend fences with the community.
Among other initiatives, Anderson is hosting meetings with parents the second Monday of each month, he said.
The Ed Tech Center is badly in need of a guidance counselor, Principal Victoria Mallison told the board.
The center doesn’t have one because state funding for the positions is given out based on enrollment, and there aren’t enough students at the center to qualify, Superintendent Jeffrey Moss told the board.
Several board members said they thought a guidance counselor for the school could be a good idea.
Some board members also suggested the Ed Tech Center look at partnering with community groups, including Paracletus, a new group founded a former Washington High School teacher.