By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville School District Board of Directors discussed changes to its overarching and calendar-based goals, a new computer learning program, and several other items at a special meeting Tuesday at the Greensboro Center.
Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway asked the board to re-evaluate one of three strategic goals posted throughout SSD schools and on the SSD’s website: becoming a high-performing district by 2012, with 65 percent of all students scoring proficient or above on state tests. Federal guidelines necessitate changes to this goal, he said, with terms like “high-performing” getting replaced with an A-F ratings scale and 85 percent of SSD students expected to perform on or above grade level by 2017.
Holloway suggested the district change the old proficiency goal to reflect the new guidelines, and several board members agreed, including Keith Coble, board president. Coble said he still had one concern about Holloway’s proposal.
“Is there a one-sentence summary of all that we can say to people?” Coble asked.
Holloway replied, “Let me give you (my) shot at that ... ‘The district will annually increase (its percentage of students scoring proficient or above) by greater than 2.5 percentage points over the next six years.”
In addition to suggesting revisions to this broader goal, Holloway also presented an extensive list of smaller, more concrete goals to implement on the school’s calendar. Goals with assigned dates include starting a three-year laptop lease program for teachers by November, rolling out the Signapore Math program in fourth and fifth grade by summer 2013 and receiving bids for a new fence at Starkville High School by October 16.
These assigned dates were the exception to the rule. Holloway said several goals did not have assigned dates yet, such as improving instruction through a comprehensive assessment system, studying reduction of graduation requirements from 27 units to the 24-unit state minimum, and enabling each student to attain one year’s worth of achievement regardless of educational level or subgroup.
“There’s a lot of blanks to fill in here,” Holloway said. “It’s a framework.”
Coble and other board members said this framework would suffice for the time being. He said the goals are a work in progress, designed to coordinate Holloway’s vision for the school district with that of the board.
“This is a step beyond what (goals) we’ve had, which (were) a step in the right direction when (we developed them),” Coble said.
The board also unanimously approved an agreement between the SSD and CompassLearning, Inc. costing $131,595 in total, with Title I paying $62,000 and SSD funds paying the remainder. SSD Assistant Superintendent Toriano Holloway said the district has to spend 10 percent of its funds on the lowest-achieving populations in its schools, and part of that 10 percent will pay for the CompassLearning agreement.
“CompassLearning links up with MAP and individualizes a growth plan for every kid in our district that takes the MAP test,” Toriano Holloway said. “The district funds will come from a program that we found, (which) we were spending $71,000 on per year, that nobody was using.”
Lewis Holloway said Toriano Holloway did extensive research to find the program that would give the district the best returns on its investment. The CompassLearning agreement is also a one-time purchase, Lewis Holloway said, with subsequent upgrades costing substantially less.
“(In) K-8, we will now be relying on this (program) as our primary response for intervention for kids,” Lewis Holloway said. “Plus, it gives parents access from home if they have a computer. It’s even accessible through iPad. We think this is a very positive way to go. It’s a lot like a video game.”