School principals presented school improvement plans for Martinsville Middle School and Patrick Henry Elementary School to the Martinsville City Council at a Nov. 14 meeting.
Despite all schools being fully accredited as of the last Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) evaluation, Martinsville schools are still looking for ways to improve. Some schools had achievement gap ratings that were at a Level Two and the schools are working to bring these ratings up.
Martinsville Middle School principal Ama Waller discussed goals set by the school. All are SMART goals, meaning they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. The goals primarily focus on a duo of Level Two indicators, English for students with disabilities and science overall.
“We reviewed documents and things that we already had in place to just overall see what we need to improve to get those indicators to Level One, or from yellow to green,” Waller said, adding the school’s first goal involves the test scores.
“Martinsville Middle School will increase the number of students passing state assessments to improve the school quality indicators from Level Two to Level One in science academic achievement, and English achievement gap by June,” she said.
The school is already implementing tactics to achieve this goal.
“Some things we are already doing and some things from the academic review process that we need to tweak. School wide, we have been hitting vocabulary instruction. Again, cross curricular, everyone has word walls physically or digitally, students have interactive notebooks,” Waller said.
The school has always prided itself on being “student led” through collaborative study groups and letting students monitor their own progress, she said. It also is trying to encourage cohesion and collaboration between the general education and special education programs.
“We’ve been really stressing the importance of collaborative planning between the gen ed and the special education teachers who have the specialty training to know how to handle the students and teach them,” Waller said.
The second goal involves parent and community communication.
“Martinsville Middle School will increase parental involvement by having at least 90 percent of families indicate that they agree or strongly agree that Martinsville Middle School communicates and involves them regularly in their child’s education,” Waller said.
The important thing is to make sure that there is a sufficient amount of positive communication between parents and teachers, so that when teachers need to have less positive communication, a relationship has already been established.
“We want to increase positive communication. Sometimes we’re communicating, but we wanted to have more positive communication,” Waller said. The school is utilizing monthly newsletters, quarterly conference forms, and more to that end.
“We also want to give parents a voice. One thing that stood out in our administration training this summer was building with, not building for, parents and students, but building with them,” Waller said, emphasizing the importance of putting parents on various teams.
The third goal encompasses behavior and safety.
“Martinsville Middle School will decrease the number of out of school suspensions by 10 percent from the previous academic year by the end of May,” Waller said.
She said the school has already implemented policies such as assigning mentors to students, making sure the expectations are reinforced daily, and offering “Reflective Fridays,” as well as alternative behavioral correction methods.
“Implementing just other alternatives to correct or reteach undesired student behavior, whether that’s restorative justice. We do a lot of conferences, talking, apologize, write a letter; team conferences where they bring our teams together and talk to the parents,” Waller said.
“We’re going to soon start implementing some after school community service projects for things you really don’t want to expel for. You were skipping class, we don’t want to pull you out of class, but you’re going to stay after school and work on something. Oh, you vandalized the bathroom. You’re going to stay after school and help the custodian clean the bathroom,” she said.
Cameron Cooper, principal of Patrick Henry Elementary School, noted her school fared similarly, with science overall at a Level Two as well as math for students with disabilities.
The first goal involves SOL scores and improving those level indicators.
“(Our goal is to) increase our performance in English from 80 to 90 percent, math from 83 from 90 percent, and also increase our performance on the science SOL test by 15 percent as measured by the spring SOL test,” Cooper said.
A new curriculum has already been implemented to help increase science scores.
“We have started with a new curriculum this year for science. It’s called STEM Scopes. It gives students a lot of opportunities to engage with their texts. So, they read about it, they engage with whatever the assignment is,” Cooper said.
However, the school also wants to ensure it pays attention to students who are not yet SOL testing.
“We want to make sure that the PALS identified students, (and identified means you’re falling behind a certain benchmark) and we want to reduce the amount of students who are PALS identified, which means they are performing at the level that they need to,” she said.
Goals also are broken down for individual subgroups.
“Our goals are to, in the Black subgroup for English, to increase that by 10 percentage points as well, and also the students with disabilities subgroup, (we) want to increase that by 10 percentage points as well. In math, again looking at the Black subgroup, and increase that by 10 percentage points, as well as the students with disabilities subgroup. Last thing, with our science, making sure that we are increasing the pass rate with that,” Cooper said.
Plans are being put in place to meet these goals.
In “English and math, just a few things that we make sure we’re utilizing effective practices in the class and to make sure that’s happening we have a specified time every week for every grade level to get together for English and math collaborative planning. During that time, we’re looking at the framework, making sure we know what the framework says, how are students going to be assessed, and then making sure that we’re clear about how the delivery is going to happen,” Cooper said.
Cooper wants all students to come to school love and enjoy what they’re doing by nurturing the whole child.
“We are a big believer at Patrick Henry of the whole child. Beyond just instructional pieces, we want students to love school. We spend a lot of time ensuring that there are clubs that meet their needs that they want to be interested in and constantly listening to them to build those clubs, so they strive and want to come to school,” Cooper said.
In other matters, the board:
*Heard an update on the Lego Robotics teams and their competitions.
*Was presented information on all the offerings of the Apptegy Technology System.
*Heard from Ama Waller on her VDOE presentation on chronic absenteeism.
*Heard about the HBCU College Fair being held on November 29 at Martinsville High School.
*Approved the financial report.
*Approved the consent agenda.