“These improvements can be attributed to strategic planning for intentional improvement,” Richmond County Schools Director of Student Testing and Accountability Steve Lear told the board. “This didn’t happen by accident.”
He told the council there were two major factors that helped the school system go from having only four schools that made Adequate Yearly Progress, as defined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the previous year to 10 thus far last year.
“There are a couple of things that will impact this data, especially when making comparisons with this data,” Lear said. “First, the reconfiguration of schools, which certainly had an impact with the number of students, the grade levels and the new schools. But I think what had a greater impact ... was the ability to include retest results in our AYP results.”
This year, schools were allowed to retest students who scored below proficiency and use the better results to tabulate their statistics.
The status of Richmond County Ninth Grade Academy has yet to be determined, because it is judged by special criteria. However, Lear said initial indications are the school will bring the total to 11 of the district’s 19 institutions when it is finally determined.
Lear displayed color-coded graphs to illustrate the difference between the last two years.
One series of graphs illustrated the targets at the district’s elementary schools, with yellow indicating a target that was missed and blue a target that was made.
Nearly half the page was yellow in the graph of the 2007-08 school year, while the 2008-09 graphs had a fewer number of yellow blocks.
There were 16 total targets missed throughout the school system in the 2008-09, Lear said, as compared to 59 last year.
A similar bar graph illustrated the difference between the original scores and the scores derived from retesting.
“Our task this year will be to identify what we did between these two tests, and replicate that success throughout the whole school year,” he said.
Another factor which contributed to increased success was attendance rates, Lear said. Last year’s attendance rate in the district was 96.4 percent.
“As you can see, there was a tremendous improvement in our attendance rates last year,” he said. “... Higher attendance rates have a correlation to higher performance.”
“Obviously, we still have plenty of room to improve,” School Board Chairman Ken Goodman said in response.
He said he found discussions with students and teachers of the district concerning the results encouraging.
“Even with the improved results, they’re still unhappy with it,” Goodman said. “They want to do even better.”
In other business:
n The board unanimously approved a change order for curb, guttering and storm drain work at Chalk Road Elementary School.
The order will cost about $62,000 the board did not budget for the project, Associate Superintendent Dr. Robert Beck said.
“I would like for you to let them know that we’re not setting a precedence by approving a change order tonight,” School Board Vice Chairman Tom McInnis instructed Beck. “We’re going to be watching all change orders like a hawk.”
“I told them that very same thing,” Beck said.
Another change order was approved unanimously by the board, which Beck told them wouldn’t cost the board any money.
He said it was an accounting procedure.
n Community member David Lindsey was announced as the winner of RCS’s District Logo Contest.
He was not there to accept his prize, but Richmond Senior High student Cassie Russell, who assisted with the sketch for the project, accepted an award for her part.
The logo features a moniker of the RCS school system underneath a book with a pencil and a computer mouse above it.
Above and below the book is written the motto: “HOPE for every student.”
n A school district policy concerning drug-testing of student athletes was amended by the unanimous action of the board to eliminate the athletic director’s discretion from the policy.
The policy now reads that the tests can be administered at the principal’s discretion.