Board Reviews Test Results

At Tuesday evening’s Board meeting, Lyn Mueller, leader of Center For Inquiry (CFI), welcomed the Board and community to her school where she has led for 16 years. The floor to ceiling bookshelves of the meeting space were impressive – full of artwork, rocks and bones, and books written by professional and student authors. The elementary school’s logo, “Where Questions Matter,” is an inquiry based approach that is an ongoing partnership with University of South Carolina. Admittance to this program is through a lottery the spring of each year. Choice and Magnet opportunities are advertised to parents in the late fall of each school year. Parents interested in this learning/teaching approach are encouraged to view the school’s website to find out if this style is a fit for their child. The school has room for 264 students – 44 students at each grade level.

Academic achievement for middle school students was a focus for both the Board and District staff. Poor test results across the board for some sets of students have given a strong incentive for the Board to set a strategic plan that will yield results. (To see my analysis of the recent HSAP and PASS scores, go to blythewoodonline.com and click on Opinion on the top bar and scroll down to HSAP & PASS Scores Analysis.) A few things are happening in this area, however. To date, a transition team has met to seek ways to help sixth-graders ease into middle school, a review of honors and regular courses is underway and teachers are receiving professional development to assess student’s needs. The journey for improvement in middle schools is long. And along this line, I think the community can expect frequent reviews and presentations at Board meetings in the coming months. Constructive comments from the community are encouraged to individual schools or School Board members.

Office professionals, led by Superintendent assistant Georgette Council, discussed their summer professional development opportunities. These classified employees travelled to conferences in Virginia, California, Nevada and within our own district to learn technology and leadership skills and personal ‘soft’ skills like efficiency, personal health, stress management with the idea that they would be better employees and better equipped to serve. Fifteen hundred of the district’s nearly 3,500 employees are classified. These employees have only had opportunities for professional development in the last year.

The next School Board meeting will be Sept. 24 at Summit Parkway Middle School. On the agenda is a proposal from Board member Melinda Anderson to set a policy on the use of pepper spray by District security and a request of early childhood programs from member Chip Jackson.