BOE hears from Walker, West Jasper principals
by Briana Webster
Oct 23, 2013 | 2854 views | 0 0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Jasper City Board of Education heard from Walker High School Principal Gary Boling and West Jasper Elementary Principal Rita Pilling Tuesday afternoon as they presented their schools’ 2013-2014 Continuous Improvement Plans.

Boling mentioned four key points that will factor into this school year’s CIP presentation — graduation rate, ACT scores, staff development and technology.

“If you look at the graduation rate, there’s a decrease but they’ve changed the methodology of determining the graduation rate from a very malleable way of doing it which allowed schools, including our own, to manipulate that to a certain degree. The entire state, and most of the United States, was doing that,” Boling said. “... That drop in graduation rate is due to that, I believe. I think it may continue to be something that’s going to affect the entire state.” 

ACT scores will also drop across the state, Boling said, because up until this year only the students who have taken college preparatory courses would take the test, now it is mandatory that the entire junior class take the ACT due to the state’s new College and Career Ready Plan 2020.

Some of the staff development goals and aspirations include improving in areas of effective questioning, afformative assessments and critical thinking. Boling said by using technology, it will help “accomplish better questioning, deeper thinking and better feedback from the students,” which also led to his last point focusing on technology.

“The next thing that I wanted to say that we’re doing with our CIP is technology, and that’s one that everybody in the building is working with,” Boling said. “... The fact that we got iPads, and we’re constantly emphasizing that, is huge.” 

He also noted focusing more on a deeper understanding of math and literacy and how the school’s physical education area has developed a plan to build portfolios for the students on “where they are with their fitness levels and then trying to build lifelong awareness and thinking and focus on being physically fit and eating right and that sort of thing for the rest of their lives.” 

Next on the agenda to present her school’s plan was Pilling. She touched on a number of things involving the elementary school, including awards and achievements, reading comprehension, math, Alabama Science Assessment (ASA), Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), AIMSweb, continuous professional development, challenges and solutions.

“This is our second year of implementation of being a Leader In Me school ... It has become a big part of our school. It’s not one more thing; it’s part of what we do in helping our students become leaders,” Pilling said. “That’s kind of our theme that our students will say. They came up with this and what those letters mean in LEAD — Learn, Excel, Achieve and Dream.” 

Part of the reading and math goals for the plan are that grades third through fifth will meet or exceed the 80 percent Jasper City schools’ benchmark goal on the new ACT Aspire State Assessment test. The slide show presentation also displayed how every grade, from grades 3 to 5, showed growth in 2012-2013 ARMT+ reading and math data.

Pilling said the students did not score as well on the ASA tests this year as they did last year, with only 72 percent of students being proficient. Kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade students also increased their percentage rates in DIBELS. She also spoke briefly on AIMSweb, which is a program used to help monitor students’ progress.

“This is for our third- through fifth-grade students who are special education students and students that we deem real at-risk. When we say ‘at-risk’ that could be for possible failure,” Pilling said. “... We are seeing lots of gains through this program. We do lots of immersion and instruction and making sure that we’re really targeting the skills.” 

She ended her presentation by touching on continuous professional development for the faculty and staff with a focus on technology and challenges and solutions. A few of the challenges include an increase in student population, which is positive; however, this also puts the school at a 94 percent poverty level, 60 percent minority level and a growing EL (English Learners) student body. Solutions to those challenges involve providing data driven decisions, student-centered learning, real-life learning, community involvement, school-sponsored student clubs, exploratory “enrichment experiences” for students and leader recognition programs.

In other business: 

•The board approved a contract for Kelly Services, which offers help with finding and recruiting substitute teachers for private and public school systems.

•The board also approved the Title II-A Class Size Reduction Report.

•Board members approved the disposal of surplus items and the superintendent’s report, which included the personnel report.

After the board adjourned, members stayed for a work session about the Alabama School Board Association Training Topic: District Budgeting and Fiances. The school board will participate in a work session on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 5:30 p.m. at the Jasper City Hall conference room to discuss funding of the new high school project for the system. No actions will be taken by the board.