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Board Hears NMS And MHS Highlights

By Staff | Nov 14, 2012

The New Martinsville School choir entertained guests at the Nov. 5 Board of Education meeting, which was held in the Magnolia High School auditorium for presentation of Local School Improvement Council reports. Students gave guests a preview of what was to come at the New Martinsville School Veterans Day Program which was held Friday.

Both Magnolia High School and New Martinsville School gave Local School Improvement Council presentations at the Wetzel County Board of Education meeting Nov. 5, which was held at Magnolia High School.

New Martinsville School

New Martinsville School Principals M. Fay Pritchard, Shawn Coen, and Ben McPherson were on hand to present NMS goals for the 2012-2013 school year. The goals were the following: all students at New Martinsville School will be educated in a safe and drug-free learning environment that supports academic achievement; all students in the Students with Disability subgroup will receive a free, appropriate public education to increase achievement and performance and to support transition to desired post school outcomes; all students will meet or exceed state, national, and international curriculum standards that incorporate the acquisition of 21st Century skills through engaging opportunities in the arts, world languages, health, physical education, and career/technical education as well as the core subjects of reading/English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies; all students will master or exceed grade level on Next Generation (NxG) standards; all teachers in every content area will utilize the WV 21st CSOs or Next Generation Standards as applicable; students identified as Limited English Proficiency will receive free and appropriate services to increase achievement and performance and to support transition to desired post-school outcomes.

NMS spent time at the beginning of the year analyzing data to increase student achievement and comparing skills across the classrooms. The skills were compared in two ways, the first way being a comparison from class to class. This is the way WesTest measures students. This way, students are compared by grade level. The second comparison compares student growth from year to year.

Analysis was done of each grade level by each standard tested. Forms have been developed that allow instructors to compare performance against the state average. Information is transferred from the Confidential Item Analysis Summary and compared. Using this comparison, teachers can develop SMART goals and plans to address the weaknesses.

NMS then observes individual student success. Students who are 15 points above or below the master score are considered bubble students, because 15 points represents only one to two questions the student missed.

The last step allows students to analyze their own test scores. Students are given a copy of their Individual Right Response Record. This record breaks the student’s score down standard by standard, question by question. This allows students to see their strengths and weaknesses and speak with teachers about them and develop goals. Students then can receive instruction that targets their individual weaknesses.

Number talks will also be implemented at NMS. Number talks is a framework for discussing how students think through a math problem; this leads to discussions about how students solve a problem. These number talks allow students to understand the process for getting an answer, instead of just knowing the answer.

Also noteworthy is the changing expectations for teachers. NMS is a demonstration school for the new teachers’ evaluation system. This system has three to four different parts, depending how long the teacher has been teaching. All teachers complete a self-reflection, set two student learning goals, and receive a score based on WesTest growth. Teachers with five or fewer years are required to be observed. All of these criteria form a teacher’s summative evaluation.

The emergency plan was also discussed during the LSIC presentation. This plan at NMS was developed by a team of teachers, administrators, and local law enforcement officers. The plan and safety bags are checked and updated monthly. Drills are conducted four times a year, two for shelter in place and two for lock downs.

New Martinsville Police Chief Tim Cecil, Officer Adam Skinner, and K-9 Kenny are willing and able to make visits to the school. NMS’s report states, “We believe having an officer regularly visit makes both students and teachers feel more secure and it also allows students to build rapport with the officers and thus make a bridge to many possible alliances.”

The report also referenced the Oct. 10 “street drugs” awareness program presented by EMT/Coroner and Rob Haught (member of Wetzel Coalition Against Drugs and former Chief Deputy). Also, last spring, Corporal Roger Spragg of the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office conducted a demonstration with his K-9, Titus.

In addition to the drug awareness class, administrators also attended “Bulletproof Mind” with Col. Dave Grossman to address today’s growing teen apathy, the new way teens are “wired”, and awareness of why and how school shootings have evolved.

Positive behavior support plans such as “positive office referrals” have been implemented to recognize students that excel and “continually do good” in school in all aspects including academic and social settings. Positive office referrals are initiated by a teacher; recognized by the administration with a pencil, notebook, and certificate as well as a call home; and then later at academic assemblies they are recognized before their peers.

Guidance counselors have worked intensely to address bullying and cyber-bullying issues within the school. Teachers addressed bullying and consequences the first week of school, counselors have been in the classrooms to talk to students, grade level assemblies were arranged the beginning of the year and currently surveys and guest speakers are being scheduled for grades six through eight.

Magnolia High School

Magnolia High School was next to give their LSIC report. MHS showed pride in their ACT scores, which are a national standard designed to show college readiness.

Those scores listed in the order of MHS, state, and national are as follows: English, 22.0, 20.6, 20.5; math, 19.7, 19.6, 21.1; reading, 21.4, 21.3, 21.3; science, 20.6, 20.5, 20.9; composite, 21.1, 20.6, 21.1. Those MHS scores also show improvement from their own 2011 scores. The comparison, from last year to this year is as follows: English, 20.6, 22.0; math, 19.6, 19.7; reading, 21.3, 21.4; science, 20.5, 20.6; composite, 20.6, 21.1.

All subject areas showed improvement from last year to this year, and especially noteworthy is that Magnolia’s composite score is higher than the state average.

MHS also took time to recognize the advanced courses offered at the school now. MHS has worked over the past few years to offer more challenging curriculum in Advanced Placement Chemistry, English, Calculus, and Government. All of those classes are full this year. They also offer several dual college credit courses and those are also full. Further, all freshmen and sophomores are offered honors classes in all four core areas; all of those classes are full.

Magnolia is not focusing on just academic growth though; they are also focusing on growth in character. The MHS Student Alliance, advised by teacher Stacy Barcus, is focusing on a change in culture at Magnolia. The club aspires to build relationships and friendships and to “blur the lines between cliques” at the school.

Prevention Resource Officer at Magnolia, Steve Kastigar, discussed the Drug Free Club at Magnolia. Kastigar expressed pride in the fact that the club now has 130 members, making it the largest chapter in America. This also makes for over a quarter of the student body enrolled in the club. Kastigar says the club “gives kids an out of peer pressure.”

MHS also held an open house synthetic drug presentation recently, which discussed bath salts, K2 marijuana, and ecstasy; furthermore, Magnolia’s recent Project Future presentation also impacted students, Kastigar said. “There was dead silence in (the auditorium), from the power of the story,” he stated.

Kastigar added that he wants to keep pushing Drug Free Clubs and he wants students to use the club as a tool to get clean. Kastigar wants to continue drug education in school, even through speaking in health and science classes.

Those in attendance also were able to hear about the recent visit to Magnolia from the State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jorea Marple, who released a study showing the influence that an education including arts, has on a student’s academic achievement. Marple chose Magnolia High School as the place to release this study because of its excellent arts offerings, Theater Teacher Eileen Miller, and one student who exemplified the study’s findings-Amanda Mayo.

Kathi Schmalz spoke before the presentation ended, saying, “Magnolia is working very hard to raise the bar . . . it’s very important we have kids working to solve problems.”

American Education Week

Before the end of the Nov. 5 meeting, Superintendent Diane Watt also took the time to recognize the week of Nov. 11-17 as American Education Week. The theme for this year is Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility.

“American Education Week was created to honor and thank educators,” Watt said. “We are very proud of the public education (Wetzel County Schools) provide, not just this week, but every day. Every week is a wonderful week. I, as superintendent, want to thank every employee. Our hats are off to you.”