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School officials see test results as starting point

David Broyles Staff Reporter

November 15, 2013

Officials with both Surry County and Mount Airy School Districts are taking the State Department of Education READY Accountability Report scores as a baseline for guiding students to being career and college ready by graduation.


Surry County Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves and Mount Airy Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little were in one sense relieved the results were different than the steep drop experienced in many school systems in the proficiency scores.


“Only 21 school systems were above the 50 percent mark,” said Reeves who reported that Surry County Schools had a composite score of 50.4 percent from its 19 schools on the end of course (EOC) and end of grade (EOG) testing. He said Surry ranked 19th out of 115 schools tested in the state.


Little said Mount Airy anticipates being in the top 20 schools in the state as well, though he did not have final information on that. Early data indicated the district composite score is 49.2 percent, which included all EOG and EOC for reading, math and science. Little reported that the state composite average from the district’s information is 44.7 percent.


“This is not a report on students and quality education,” said Little. “It’s a report of unprecedented change. A total of 96 percent of our teachers met or exceeded academic growth targets.”


Both systems report most of their schools have met or exceeded expected academic growth from students in spite of tougher standards, an entirely new curriculum and changes in assessments which culminated in a “perfect storm ” unlike previous changes by the DPI which typically involved one element such as curriculum or standards.


“We will embrace the numbers and adjust so we can be sure our students are college and career ready,” said Reeves. “We are not going to be satisfied until we make it better. From the parents standpoint we want to offer a world class education to our students. Business here in Surry County is not just local but global. It’s important for us to prepare students for work locally, regionally and globally.”


Reeves said teachers now have the information they need and that keeping communication open with parents is critical as schools rebound as they have in the past from less widespread changes. He encouraged parents to use the district’s Haiku information managing software to help them understand what is happening in their child’s classroom and said parents can use their child’s log-in password if they don’t have their own.


He said county school teachers “are working hard to continue growth in the classrooms” individually and collectively through their Professional Learning Communities.


“With connection comes good relationships. We’re all in this together to deliver a great educational environment so everyone can be successful,” said Reeves. “This (communication) already exists in Surry County Schools. Our teachers have been staying in close contact with parents and they know they can pick up the phone or email a teacher so we can address things individually. One snapshot in a 180-day calendar isn’t the only thing. Our professional educators are gong to concentrate on what’s going on for the other 179 days as well.”


Reach David Broyles at dbroyles@civitasmedia.com or 336-719-1952.