|San Jacinto News-Times - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
School improvement plan for junior high approved
San Jacinto News- Times
COLDSPRING -- Coldspring- Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District trustees meeting in regular session approved a School Improvement Plan to better Lincoln Junior High’s accountability rating. Assistant superintendent, Dr. Bill Chapman, presented details of the SIP in a public hearing prior to trustees’ regular meeting. Also during the public hearing, trustees heard results of COCISD’s annual rating by the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST). The SIP is necessary as LJH received an “Academically Unacceptable” rating for math scores on the 2010-2011 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. All students had to score 65 percent or higher for an “Acceptable” rating. In his presentation, Chapman was accompanied by Dr. Vance Vaughn. Vaughn is a professor of Education at the University of Texas at Tyler and serves as the “external” member of the LJH Campus Improvement Team, writers of the SIP. The State requires that the District employ an “external member” on the CIT. Having examined both recent and historical student data, Vaughn said, “There seems to be a systemic gap that goes back as far as the third grade.” About 90 students are affected, according to Chapman. State data details individual performance permitting teachers to target remedial instruction. It also discloses that failing students are individuals with a history of frequent absenteeism. Vaughn said the District’s intensified focus on attendance – as discussed in the recent Trojan Community Forum – should improve the students’ opportunities to do well. Otherwise, specific strategies of the SIP include monitoring and assessing instruction on a regular basis, providing a variety of tutorial opportunities, deliberately involving low-performing students in classroom discussions, and parent conferences. To assess effectiveness of the strategies, administrators will monitor individual student progress and address improvement or deterioration with the teacher. They will also monitor teacher contact or their at- tempts to contact and meet with parents. Chapman told trustees, “Our goal is not to simply achieve an ‘Academically Acceptable’ rating, but to create sustainable change and growth in academic achievement for all our students.” COCISD Business Manager Adam Jenke reported that the District received “Superior Achievement” on its FIRST rating for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. A “superior” rating is the State’s highest accolade, meaning the District demonstrates quality management of financial resources. The report examines 22 criteria as determined by the Texas Education Agency, Texas Business and Education Council, and Texas Association of School Business Officials. Criteria include tax collections, budget management, and cash flow as well as student and staff demographic information. In regular business, COCISD principals reported attendance is above 96 percent on all campuses. Last year, the District had an average daily attendance of 94.9 percent. This year, the District’s year-end goal is an ADA of 96 percent. Trustees also approved a request to TEA for “maximum class size exception” for the 2011-2012 school year. TEA mandates a maximum 22:1 student- teacher ratio per class in kindergarten through the fourth grade. Superintendent, Dr. La- Tonya Goffney, told trustees the District exceeds that ratio in the first, second, and fourth grades. In all, eight classes are affected with largest ratio currently at 24:1 in one class. Goffney said many COCISD teachers have experienced an overall increase in class size this year due to State funding cuts and a subsequent reduction in staff. She added, “Teachers are not complaining. I’m proud of our K-5 teachers. They have really taken on the task of doing more with less.” Trustees also approved an application to TEA for District participation in an “optional flexible year program”. If approved, the option will be administered this first year as a pilot program and affect senior class members only. Essentially, the program allows achieving students to end their school year early while those in academic need will continue until June and receive more individualize instruction.