Ferriday schools set plan toward improvement

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

FERRIDAY &8212; The folks at the three Ferriday schools ranked at the bottom of the district chart don&8217;t want anyone to think they aren&8217;t getting better.

With School Performance Scores in the mid 50s &8212; the goal is 120 by 2014 &8212; the schools just have farther to go.

Ferriday Lower, Upper and Junior High schools are in school improvement level 2 based on last years test scores and attendance rates. They&8217;ve been labeled &8220;academically unacceptable,&8221; and they had to offer school choice this year.

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But with all those nasty words comes extra special attention and a comprehensive plan for improvement.

Every school has a written plan for improvement, but because the three Ferriday schools failed to meet the state benchmark of a 60 SPS, they had to submit a revised school improvement plan to the state by Nov. 1.

But the plan was already in place before that deadline.

A 12-person team of district supervisors is working closely with the three principals and hears quarterly implementation reports.

Personnel from the state&8217;s Regional Service Center are making monthly visits, and each teacher will be observed at least two times with an improvement report to follow.

Ten percent of the district&8217;s Title I funds have to be allocated to the school improvement process, on top of federal money those schools already get.

&8220;This is perhaps one of our rainy days,&8221; Federal Programs Director Julius Huhn said. &8220;But I promise you the sun will come out.&8221;

About 15 students actually took advantage of school choice and left Ferriday schools for other parish schools, mostly Ridgecrest Elementary.

As part of the school improvement plan, each principal outlined the greatest areas of weakness, what the improvement focus is and personal goals.

Ferriday Lower Elementary

The pre-kindergarten through second-grade school is measured by the scores of the Ferriday Upper third-graders. They receive the same SPS as FUES.

Principal Loretta Peterman told the school board last month that vocabulary has always been a weakness for the school. The school also tests poorly in language usage, reading comprehension and problem solving.

This year FLES will have after school tutoring for all second graders before spring testing.

To give students more individualized learning resource teachers are now assigned to a second grade class each morning to get an extra teacher in the room, Peterman said.

FLES teachers will also have staff development in the students&8217; areas of weakness and attend weekly collaborative meetings to discuss student needs.

&8220;My personal goal is to be in the classroom more,&8221; Peterman said. &8220;To observe and meet with them more.&8221;

Ferriday Upper Elementary

The third- through fifth-grade school has grown from a SPS in the low 30s to this year&8217;s 55.7, Principal Lillian Franklin said.

The school, like FLES and FJHS, showed minimal academic growth this year.

Franklin is focusing on science and math professional development to boost future scores. She&8217;s also using collaborative planning to help teachers with ideas and peer-to-peer visitation to show them alternate ways of doing things.

&8220;For teacher growth, they need to see each other work, to get ideas,&8221; she said. &8220;Teachers are paired with another and required to visit the other teacher each month.&8221;

Time on task in the classroom is also essential, she said. By training teachers to take advantage of every minute for learning, the school can maximize the time it has, she said.

Her personal goals include more monitoring of the instruction, instructional assistance in the classroom and being a part of curriculum planning.

Ferriday Junior High

The sixth- through eighth-grade school plans to put more focus on the core academics and less on extracurricular activities, Principal Dorothy Parker said.

Band and athletic students will be pulled from those classes if their grades drop below a 2.0 grade point average.

After school tutoring is available three days a week for two hours, and students have several opportunities to attend parent/student sessions in the computer labs.

Eighth-graders will take the mock LEAP test in the spring.

&8220;We have to make 60,&8221; Parker said. &8220;We need to improve 12 points. I want to help teachers improve classroom management. Middle school teachers are hard to find.&8221;

Parker said she also wants to have at least five to 10 students score at the advanced level on the LEAP in all four subject areas.