The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 21, 2012

‘Race to the Top’ driving changes in ECPS classrooms

Staff Writer
MIRANDA BAINES

TARBORO — New measures of student learning and targeted reading intervention were major topics of discussion at the Edgecombe County Board of Education’s Monday meeting.

Starting in the spring, the school system will give 30 Common Exams to students, designed for core grades and subjects that are currently non-tested. The exams also will be used as part of the annual teacher evaluation process.

“This is a significant change that is being driven by Race to the Top,” said Dr. Renee Franklin, Assistant Superintendent/ Educational Program Services. As part of its Race to the Top federal grant application, the North Carolina Board of Education agreed to eventually implement a measure of assessment for student growth.

Dr. Evelyn Johnson, board member, expressed her concern about giving classroom teachers the responsibility of additional testing as part of their evaluation criteria.

“Teachers are going to have to carry this load, so it’s very important they understand what this load looks like,” Johnson said. “My concern is that they’re going to spend so much time testing, when are they going to teach? We’ve got to make sure that teachers have time to do what they’re supposed to do so they can be accountable…”.

Test scores have been a recent topic of discussion at board meetings, particularly the district’s low reading scores. At Monday’s meeting, the board approved a services contract with Targeted Reading Intervention, Inc. to raise those reading levels at Princeville Elementary and Coker-Wimberly Elementary, the schools with the lowest reading proficiency levels in the district. At Coker-Wimberly, third graders demonstrated only a 38 percent reading proficiency level on last year’s ABC’s End-of-Grade Test. At Princeville, third-grade students had a 48.4 percent reading proficiency level.

Beginning in January, kindergarten and first-grade teachers at those schools will spend 15 minutes each day working one-on-one with the student in their classroom at the lowest reading level. As part of the program, trained literacy coaches will observe the teacher-student sessions via webcam and provide feedback to the teachers.

“We have to start somewhere and I think you chose a great place to start,” Board Chair Ann Kent told Superintendent John Farrelly. She then asked Farrelly if the teachers in the program could eventually train other teachers in targeted reading intervention strategies.

“This is certainly something that could be impactful not only for those two schools but all of our elementary schools,” Farrelly responded.

A presentation of eight starting blocks for Tarboro High School’s track was a highlight of Monday’s board meeting. Dr. Fred S. Wood Jr., national president of the W.A. Pattillo National Alumni Association, presented the starting blocks to Farrelly. Milton “Nick” Newton, a 1953 graduate of W.A. Pattillo High School and proficient sprinter and high jumper, donated the starting blocks, which are designed to hold sprinters’ feet in place at the start of a race so they do not slide out as they push out at the sound of the gun.

In other business at the meeting, the board approved the following:

A stop sequestration resolution, whereas across-the-board budget cuts that would become effective Jan. 2, 2013 as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 would impact education by a reduction in funds of 8.2 percent or more.

Common Core coach books

A budget amendment for 2012-2013

A resolution to declare land on Roberson School Road as surplus property

A contract to allow East Carolina University social work students to shadow social workers in the district.