February 14, 2017 10:13:32 AM
Columbus Middle School Principal Billie Smith hopes to improve her school's "F" designation in last year's Mississippi Department of Education's accountability assessment to at least a "C" rating by improving students' English and math testing grades and overall behavior.
The Columbus Municipal School District unanimously adopted a Schools At-Risk (SAR) action plan Monday for the campus that calls for decreasing by 25 percent the number of students testing at Levels 1 and 2 -- the lowest performing classifications -- on the Mississippi Assessment Program, increasing the number pupils showing growth on statewide testing by 5 percent and lowering the amount of office referrals for inappropriate behavior at the school by 5 percent.
To accomplish the curriculum goals, the report states CMS teachers will target low-testing students with instruction and assessment adhering more stringently to Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards; enact lesson plans with "rigorous, student-centered, bell-to-bell instruction;" implement high impact centers to be taught two to three days per week; and provide feedback for classroom observations.
CMSD will include families on advisory teams and parent-teacher organizations, thereby allowing families to provide input for improvement on the behavior issue, while CMS teachers and administrators will "provide feedback with students and families in a manner that clearly communicates the students' strengths and provide specific guidance for continued development relative to learning outcomes," the SAR action plan provided on the district's website states.
Updates on the progress of these goals will be provided monthly through June to the board.
Smith, who presented the plan to the school board, said the percentage goals were developed in-house, not mandated by the state, and she wants to move the school to "at least a C" in future MDE assessments.
"We're pushing growth. Over time, proficiency will grow. Everything that we do ... is ultimately to grow students," she said. "I have high expectations."
The number of students testing at Levels 1 and 2 on MAP's ELA and math assessments was not presented during Monday's board meeting.
A CMS discipline comparison between the August-through-January timeframe of the current and previous school years shows 1,132 infractions -- ranging from minor infractions, such as tardiness and cutting class, to serious offenses, including disorderly conduct, fighting and weapon possession -- were reported in the 2015-16 academic year.
About 1,039 infractions have been reported in the same timeframe of the current school year, with 260 cases of disruptive behavior, 172 bus incidents and 102 reports of fighting leading the statistics. All three of those categories surpassed their 2015-16 marks.
Overall, CMSD earned a "D" rating for the 2015-16 academic year from MDE. CMS' "F" rating was the lowest in the district, while Stokes Beard Elementary's "B" designation was the highest. The district's other campuses all earned "D" ratings.
CMSD's 496 earned accountability points for the previous academic year were 127 points higher than the district earned in the 2014-15 academic year.
Last year, Superintendent Philip Hickman said the way MDE changed how it derived letter designations from grades kept CMSD from achieving a "C" designation, as many of its campuses showed improvement from the 2014-2015 assessment.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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