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Report: Student reading improves
County school board told of progress

Friday, December 13, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

During the first quarter of the 2013-14 school year, there were significant improvements in reading ability for many Henry County Public Schools students in the READ 180 reading intervention program.

DeWitt House, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, gave a report at the county school board meeting Thursday night.

According to House and his presentation, from Aug. 17 through Nov. 18, the following improvements were made from the first test to the last test in the time period. There were 465 students in the READ 180 program in all grades.

• The percentage of advanced students increased from 0.02 percent of all students in the program to 0.04 percent — from one to two students.

• The percentage of proficient students increased from 3 percent of all students to 16 percent — from 16 to 74 students.

• The percentage of basic students increased from 39 percent of all students to 59 percent — from 182 to 273 students.

• The percentage of below-basic students declined from 57 percent of all students to 25 percent — from 266 to 116.

The report did not define “advanced students,” “proficient students” and the other terms.

READ 180 is designed to accelerate the reading achievement of low-performing students, according to an online source. Its goal is to address gaps in students’ skills through the use of a computer program, literature and direct instruction in reading skills, according to a U.S. Department of Education report.

The percentage of proficient students increased and the percentage of below-basic students declined at Axton, Campbell Court, Carver, Drewry Mason, John Redd Smith, Mt. Olivet, Rich Acres and Stanleytown elementary schools; the Center for Community Learning; Fieldale-Collinsville and Laurel Park middle schools; and Bassett and Magna Vista high schools.

At Sanville Elementary, the percentage of proficient students remained the same, and the percentage of below-basic students declined.

In other business Thursday, the Bassett High School Marching Band was recognized for winning its class at every show it competed in this year in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland.

On Oct. 5, the band won first place in Class 4A at the Franklin County Classic and was named the Grand Champions of the day, according to a report given to the school board. On Oct. 12, the band competed with 30 bands from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky in a prelims/finals competition at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. After prelims, the band was crowned the 2A Grand Champion and was announced as a top-10 finalist. In the finals the band finished in third place overall, competing with all bands from all class sizes.

On Oct. 19, the band traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C., to compete in its first Bands of America regional event in six years. Bands from North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia competed. The band again won Grand Champion of Class 2A and finished fourth overall at night in the finals competition, competing against bands of all classes.

At the USBands State Championship competition Nov. 2, the band finished first overall in all captions and claimed its seventh consecutive State Championship, beating 42 bands in the competition.

The board also honored Trey Harris, band director and music teacher at Bassett High School, who was recognized as Virginia Music Educators “State Music Educator of the Year.” In September, he was named one of six regional Teachers of the Year in the Virginia Teacher of the Year competition — the first time a teacher in the school division had received the honor.

Also at the meeting, the school division’s 21st Century Mobile Learning Initiative was recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program for 2013–2015 for its 1:1 digital textbook implementation with Apple iPads.

The designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence and demonstrate Apple’s vision of exemplary learning environments, a news release states.

The designation “highlights our success as an innovative and compelling learning environment that engages students and provides tangible evidence of academic accomplishment of our 21st Century Mobile Learning Initiative,” Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton stated in the release. “Our teachers and students are embracing and using this mobile technology to enhance their learning environment and to stay globally connected.”

This year, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students have all their textbooks digitally on the iPad. Also this year, the initiative “was moved upward to sixth-grade students,” the release stated.

The school board also approved resolutions honoring members Rudy Law of the Blackberry District and Kathy Rogers of the Collinsville District for their service on the board. Their terms will expire Dec. 31. Neither sought re-election.

Both were elected in November 2005 and served two, four-year terms. Rogers was chairman of the school board five years. She also served on the board of directors of the Virginia School Boards Association. Law was vice chairman of the school board three years.

Rogers and Law praised their colleagues and staff for their integrity, professionalism and dedication, and said they were proud to have served.


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