Short Line School Principal A. Shane Highley presented the Local School Improvement Council's annual report to the Wetzel County Board of Education at their Oct. 17 meeting. While the school plans to focus on increasing test scores, SLS will not fixate on meeting Adequate Yearly Progress, but rather emphasize deeper learning for education's sake. Another strong pull for the school is to increase student involvement and decrease office referrals.
Highley first reviewed the outcomes of last year's LSIC goals. Under their first goal, that being implementing a positive behavior support plan to decrease office referrals and increase student time in class, Highley noted suspensions drastically dropped from 152 to 54 and office referrals were cut in half.
Their second goal last year was to stay above the state standards by two percent points in all core content areas on the WesTest 2. While the school did not make AYP for the 2010-2011 school year, as a school they had a 7.92 percent increase of students at or above mastery in the subject of Reading/Language Arts. However, Mathematics scores fell by 4.32 percent. Highley stated is wasn't a lack of effort by the teachers or students hat caused them to miss AYP; they are all working hard to get where they need to be. He added the administration and faculty "want to see students grow socially and academically."
Their third goal last year was to remove all old carpet in the building and replace it with tile, to build a bridge to McKimmie Ridge Road to provide an alternate exit and improve the flow of traffic, and to acquire new lockers with combination locks for the older students. Unfortunately, no progress was made on this goal because of a lack of funding. These projects are included among those for the coming school year, in addition to performing duct work in the school. To the council's knowledge, the vents and ducts have never been cleaned at the school.
Also under new goals for the coming school year, the LSIC hopes to increase all students' Reading/Language Arts and Mathematics scores on the growth model. The council would like to see students increase their current reading level by half a grade level per year until they are all reading at or above grade level. Furthermore, those students at or above grade level are hoped to progress one year or more during the school year. In math, the council would like to see the students' increase their math competency level based on comparisons between testing data from 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
To reach these goals the school plans to focus on professional development and student engagement. Study groups will be implemented along with data analysis and differentiated instruction will be emphasized. The administration will also look closely at student, parent, and teacher surveys conducted to help meet educational needs.
The school also plans to create more opportunities for student involvement. Currently the school offers such involvement through TSA, an environmental group, Art Club, football/volleyball, Girl and Boy Scouts, and PTA sports. "We're trying to create opportunities for kids to be involved, not just sports," said Highley. He went on to say that research shows when kids are involved, they feel more a part of the school and as a result, become more successful individuals.
The school also plans to increase depth of knowledge studies to help in developing more critical thinking skills and to increase test scores. "It's the deeper thinking questions they (students) have problems with," said Highley. "The numbers don't lie. They are what they are." However, with that in mind, the principal also said the school and administration will not be looking at AYP. "That's a word that's been removed from our vocabulary," Highley said, adding "I don't want them (instructors) to be scared. I want them to teach."