DCSS Board looks at system overview - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

DCSS Board looks at system overview

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - From improving Dougherty County Schools SAT scores and the numbers taking the test to getting students to excel in math and science, the Dougherty County School Board is looking at initiatives to improve the school system.

They've spent the last two days meeting with a representative from the Gwinnett County Schools looking at what the system is doing right and wrong.  From the look of all this information, board members have a little bit of homework to do. Their ultimate goal is to look at test scores from individual schools like Sherwood to the system as a whole, find trouble areas and ultimately find the resources needed to improve some of the areas where the system is lacking.

For the last two days Dougherty County School Board Members have hit the books, studying up on their own school system. They're looking at areas where students excel and at CRCT scores where they're falling short.

"By the time they got into eighth grade, those eighth graders were 21 percent under the state's average," said Velvet Riggins, DCSS Board Member.

Scores in lower grades are much better. At West Town Elementary they're working to erase those trends by put a strong emphasis on math and science by looking at new teaching methods like a synergistics lab.

"It really has pulled up our science and math scores," said Arlene Pringle, West Town Elementary Principal.

So much so in the second year of the program they're adding first and second graders to the mix.

"We have a work station where students work together in small groups, they work on missions," said Pringle.

They're also pulling out students who may struggle in areas like reading and emphasizing the subject in early intervention programs. Officials say through test scores they can make sure students are reaching the benchmarks set.

"The bench marking program is kind of like a, not just an annual, but a monthly or a nine week checkup to see how well they're progressing along that trajectory of success," said Linda Mitchell, Gwinnett County Continuous Improvement Executive Director.

With the information the board can now see how to better budget taxpayer dollars to give the needed boost in the middle school grades where test scores fall below the state average and where parental involvement seems to be needed.

In the end board members were encouraged not to be intimidated by the data, to each year take the information and see where the trends are, where students are falling short and make the necessary changes.

Dougherty County Schools Officials say the introduction of differentiated instruction or shaping lessons around how each student learns has helped to improved the district's test scores and land 23 of the system's 26 schools on the AYP list this year.

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