Parish school board discuss test scores

Published 12:33 am Wednesday, January 20, 2010

VIDALIA — At the Concordia Parish School Board academic meeting Tuesday, board members, principals and interventional teachers met to discuss plans to raise their state test scores.

With schools only meeting their growth targets from last year — Monterey High School, Vidalia Upper Elementary, Vidalia Upper Elementary and Vidalia Middle schools — parish school administrators said they are working hard to utilize different methods to raise their current standings and foster student achievement.

School administrators said elements that make or break the success of their schools are parental involvement, technology, one-on-one time spent with students and positive incentive programs for students excelling in classes and attending classes daily.

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Ferriday Lower Elementary School Principal Shelia Alwood said by keeping parents informed and caught up on school happenings, she hopes to see students’ achievement levels increase.

“We are striving to improve by having an awareness campaign with parents,” Alwood said. “(The campaign) involves ongoing conversation and meetings with parents through notes and things students take home each day.”

Alwood said her teachers are looking for students who show academic promise so that they can be further challenged in class.

“They are picking students they think they can push and we’ve never done that before. And we are going to give them rigorous work. Maybe they can be students that will be at the mastery level one day,” Alwood said.

Ferriday High School principal Michelle Bethea said one way she is seeking to get her students more involved in their class work is by fostering an excitement for learning within their parents.

“We have a newsletter to keep parents informed,” Bethea said. “And every core area (of study) has a parent night were we sit down with parents and do activities.”

Bethea said incentive programs the school is using include educational trips.

“We’re having a trip for those students who score ‘mastery’ or ‘advanced’ will receive a trip during Thanksgiving break,” Bethea said.

Vidalia High School principal Rick Brown said he hopes to see a change in his students’ scores through paying attention to their individual academic needs.

“Were going to start tracking students once they get into the ninth grade,” Brown said.

Brown said each year, students will be gauged to see what classes they need to focus on to become better students.

Brown said he has also seen a change in his students because of motivation tactics employed by the school.

“We reward students through Viking books, and we have a ‘Student of the Day.’”

Brown said he didn’t think a rewards program would work well with high school students, but he was proven wrong.

“High school kids are just like elementary kids,” he said.

Every school in the parish has also been provided with the aid of instructional coaches, or interventionalists.

Ferriday Upper Elementary School principal Cindy Smith said her students have been vocal about what they want in a learning environment.

“They suggested that we have more interactive technology in the classrooms,” Smith said.

Members of the board agreed the meeting was meant to serve as a venue to receive updates about the progress and plans in each school and to also share ideas with one another to bring about success.

The school board voted in 2008 to add three special meetings a year to discuss academic progress in the school system.

Tuesday’s meeting was the second meeting for the school year.