August 27, 2014 10:44:59 AM
Every freshman and sophomore at Columbus High School is performing below grade level in mathematics, according to Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Philip Hickman.
During a board meeting Tuesday, Hickman outlined his concerns with student achievement to CMSD school board members.
Earlier this month, all CMSD students in kindergarten through 10th grade were given a McGraw Hill achievement test aligned to Common Core standards. Common Core is a nationwide curriculum designed to ensure that each student across the country performs at the same level. It is being fully implemented for the first time this school year.
Hickman, explaining the reason for the district's low achievement levels on the McGraw Hill test, said the district has been "miseducating" students.
To combat the problem, the superintendent asked the board to purchase new textbooks that would give students a customized curriculum and could bring them up five grade levels in one year.
The board would have to approve a fund balance increase of $610,000 to purchase the books. The matter was tabled after a discussion.
In May, the district voted to purchase $505,979 worth of new textbooks at the request of former interim superintendent Dr. Edna McGill. Those textbooks have not been used this school year. While the textbooks can't be returned to the manufacturer, Hickman said the majority of them would be sold to textbook wholesalers.
Hickman was unsure if the district would recoup all of the money spent on books in May, but said he hoped to "recoup as much money as possible."
The McGraw Hill achievement test indicated that six percent of second graders were at least one year behind their grade level in math, according to Hickman. In fifth grade, 94.7 percent of students are below grade level. Thirty-three percent of fifth graders are three or more years below grade level, Hickman added.
At Columbus High School, 86 percent of freshman and sophomores placed at the fifth grade level or lower for reading skills. Of that number, only eight percent could read on a fourth grade level, Hickman said.
The board will meet Friday at 9 a.m. to discuss whether to purchase new textbooks.
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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