Vidalia concentrates on boosting scores

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

VIDALIA &045;&045; Teachers and students at Vidalia High School are concentrating on improving test scores.

For the first 15 minutes of each of the seven class periods, students and teachers are working specifically on the core areas for spring testing &045;&045; the Iowa test for ninth graders and the Graduation Exit Exam, math, science, English/language arts and social studies specific tests, for 10th and 11th grade students.

Even though the school was just 0.6 away from its growth target last year, it was still classified in school improvement this year. As a result, it must grow to stay out of the second level of school improvement.

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The school administration and teachers decided on this 15-minute concentrated plan. Last year, when the school needed to improve as well, it used a five-minute per class period plan and did see improvement, principal Rick Brown said. &uot;They made a huge gain last year and they should get credit for that,&uot; Brown said. &uot;It’s just a matter of keeping on working.&uot;

Brown said the school had an assembly last week to discuss the tutoring. &uot;We tried to treat them as young adults, putting some of the responsibility on them,&uot; Brown said. &uot;In the end, it is what they do, not the teachers. &uot;The students seemed to take to it because they know what is at stake.&uot;

The teachers are taking extra time to prepare for the tutoring as well, meeting in groups with other teachers in their core area once a week to discuss what they need to work on and specific areas students are having trouble.

&uot;All of our teachers are assigned to a group,&uot; Brown said.

For example, the P.E. teachers, both girls and boys, are working on reading comprehension with the students. &uot;Every teacher we have on this campus is involved in this,&uot; Brown said.

And during those 15 minutes, school administrators walk around and check on the classrooms to document what the teachers are teaching. &uot;The main goal is to get them (the students) to accept responsibility and let them know the staff and students are working together because we are all in this together,&uot; he said.

The school is working on incentives for attendance as well, a factor in school’s SPS. The prize for Vidalia High students is a week of donuts for breakfast for the students who only miss a limited number of days. Also, the school is calling parents of students that are absent, randomly, to make sure parents know their child missed school.