2007-05-24 / Front Page

Wilkes schools cite improvement in latest rounds of CRCT testing

By KIP BURKE news editor

The Wilkes county Board of Education heard news of outstanding performance at Washington-Wilkes Primary School driven by dedicated teachers using the latest in scientific reading programs.

W-WPS Principal Dr. Rosemary Caddell reported that 96 percent of the school's first-graders passed the recent CRCT in reading. "That includes special ed. Only five children failed - that's outstanding."

Some 92 percent of second-graders passed the same test, and 91 percent of third-graders, she reported. In eight classes, 100 percent of the students passed the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT.)

The high scores in reading, Dr. Caddell said, were directly attributable to the federal Reading First program. The program is the first truly scientific reading education program to be used, she said. Unlike other programs that work one place but not another, "Reading First has been effective in all situations, under all conditions, and that's why it's been a national movement."

The reading skills that students gain through the Reading First program will help them pass tests all the way through school, she said. "The CRCT in third grade, and all other tests after third grade, require students to read the instructions, so they are all first and foremost reading tests. They have to read the instructions, read the word problems, read the questions. So if you can read well, then employ the skills, then you can do well on the test."

Primary school students did well in other areas of the CRCT, too, Caddell reported. "In math, 97 percent of our third-graders passed, and they look at third-graders for our AYP, so that could be very good news…"

For the ninth straight year, she said, Washington-Wilkes Primary School will be honored as a Title 1 School of Excellence.

Washington-Wilkes Elementary School has also been chosen for an honor. "We've been chosen to be one of 14 stops on the Georgia Partnership for Excellence Annual Bus Trip in September," Principal Wanda Jenkins said. "This will bring a lot of attention to the area, not just to the school, because of the dignitaries from the state department of education and the legislature that will come. We're just real proud to do this for our community."

A planning team will meet with Superintendent Joyce Williams, and representatives of the city, county, and Chamber of Commerce on June 5.

Test scores at the elementary school are also improving. "We saw improvements in reducing gaps between subgroups," Jenkins said, "and we saw great improvement in our fifth-grade math scores - so much we didn't believe it at first."

W-WCHS Principal-elect Steve Echols, after inviting everyone to a surprise retirement party for departing Principal Andrew Jackson, reported that the Georgia High School Graduation Test results were in, and they were good. "We're very pleased with our graduation test results," Echols told the board. "We were at or above the state average in every category, and well above the average of the other schools in our Regional Education Service Area in all areas as well."

In Board of Education business, Vice-Chairman Bob Guin led board members through the approval of the purchase of math textbooks. The board also voted to adopt the Superintendent's proposed vocational plan and submit it to the state Board of Education.

Superintendent Williams also passed on a need to adjust meal prices upward. There was no increase in lunch prices last year, she said, but one was needed for next year. The board approved, and directed that a price list be published.

The board also approved a proposal that surplus equipment stored in the old school building be declared surplus and disposed of by auction or other method.

Guin opened bids on a zero-turnradius mower for school system property. The low bidder was Palmer Equipment, and the board accepted the bid.

Bids for replacement of carpet in school classrooms were also opened. The low bid of Walton Paint and Flooring was accepted.

The board also approved the superintendent's request to solicit bids for two new school buses as part of the regular bus fleet rotation.

The meeting opened with questions from Nathaniel Cullars concerning the use of a school bus and whether the school system had a policy on nepotism. Cullars said that citizens had reported to him that one bus driver was using a school bus to drive to and from the bus barn. He also said that the school system should have a policy on nepotism.

Guin said that the bus situation would be checked on, and the board would look into the need for a nepotism policy at a later meeting.

Superintendent Williams invited the public to come to the special meeting on Wednesday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m. when board members will come to a decision on building a new school complex. That meeting is after the press time for this week's News-Reporter, so the board's decision will be reported in next week's paper.

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