Schools looking to improve academic performance
Charles Warner Editor
UNION COUNTY — The schools of Union County are implementing a number of programs to improve their academic performance in order meet and exceed state standards.
In November, the Union County School District received an Absolute rating of Good and a Growth rating of Excellent on its 2013 South Carolina Report Card.
Included in the calculation of the district scores was the 2013 high school graduation rate of 82.2 percent. The Absolute rating of Good indicates district performance exceeded the standards for progress toward the South Carolina performance goal for the designated year, and the Growth rating of Excellent indicates district performance substantially exceeded the standards over time.
In addition to the district report card, Union County Schools received nine school report cards due to grade configurations within the elementary and middle schools: two at Jonesville and Lockhart and one at each of the other elementary, middle, and high schools. The Absolute rating at each of the schools was Average, indicating that the performance at each school met the standards for progress toward the South Carolina performance goal. All schools as well as the district have met that goal for three consecutive years. Buffalo Elementary School, Jonesville Elementary School, Jonesville Middle School, Lockhart Elementary School, Lockhart Middle School, and Sims Middle School also received a Growth rating of Average. Foster Park Elementary School, Monarch Elementary School, and Union County High School received Growth ratings of Below Average.
Since the report cards were issued the principals of the county’s schools have been addressing the Union County School about the the report cards and the steps each school is taking to improve student academic achievement. On Monday, Lockhart Schools Principal Betsy Trakas, Jonesville Elementary/Middle School Principal Renee Pryor, and Sims Middle School Principal Mickey Connolly addressed the board about the steps being taken at their schools.
Trakas said that among the steps being taken at Lockhart Schools is giving teachers teaching assignments based on their strengths and assigning more experienced teachers to mentor less experienced ones; the implementation of an Advanced Honors math class; having middle school students take STEM classes in addition to their regular math and science classes; having middle school students also take Spanish classes; teaching grammar mechanics and vocabulary on top of the ELA classes.
Another additional steps being taken at Lockhart Schools include an increase in non-fiction reading; putting greater emphasis on Science and Social studies; the assignment of a teaching assistant to visit the classes and work with struggling students and advanced students; the assignment of curriculum coaches to ensure instruction is standards based and that students are engaged in learning; and helping teachers to develop better assessments to better prepare students for the standardized tests.
Pryor said the steps being taken at JEMS including working with students individually and in small groups; STEM activities; an Advanced Honors math class; teaching working to develop common assessments; having teachers in the upper grades teach in the lower grades so that when students move up they are prepared for the next grade level; joint planning between the grades; and special education and regular education teachers working closely together.
Connolly said that at Sims the time allotted to science and Social Studies instruction has been increased from 45 minutes to 70 minutes each; science and Social Studies teachers have added literacy components into their classes; grammar has been added back into the ELA classes; guidance counselors are meeting regularly with at-risk students to develop strategies for the improvement of those students; and implementation of the STEM curriculum in the science classes.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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