By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Throughout last week, the Oktibbeha County School District Board of Trustees has held a series of public meetings to address parents and community members on their plan to increase low test scores districtwide.
During last night’s meeting at East Oktibbeha County Elementary, Superintendent James Covington assured parents the district was working hard to improve scores and school rankings, but it would need the community’s support to do so.
The district as a whole is currently ranked “low performing” according to test scores and the Quality Distribution Index, which gives each school and district a score based on graduation rate, test scores and other factors.
“We know that our school is better than ‘low performing.’ We know that your children are better than ‘low performing,’” Covington said. “If we want test scores to be where we want and need them to be, it all begins with attitude. We need to instill in our boys and girls attitude. Attitude counts.”
Covington encouraged parents to spend time reading and working on homework with their children every single day. He stressed that the district could work as hard as it could to increase test scores, but without parental support, it cannot reach its goals.
Covington handed out an information sheet that broke down the statistics of the district, including graduation rate, average ACT scores and financial data.
West Oktibbeha County Elementary is the only school in the district performing at a “successful” level. EOCES and West Oktibbeha County High School are both rated at “low performing,” while East Oktibbeha County High School is ranked as a “failing” school.
The highest turnout was for EOCHS’s meeting last Friday, where over 120 people came to participate.
“East High — their status is a little bit different than the other schools. Parents see the urgency and they want to get in and want to help. They asked a lot of questions about QDI and the graduation rate, the graduation requirements, the Subject Area Testing,” Covington said. “We really had a question-and-answer session so parents could become informed to help us do what we do.”
At both WOCES and EOCHS, parents signed up to be volunteers to work with the students in small groups to help them with reading, homework and studying.
“The community as a whole is very receptive to what we’re trying to do and that’s to have good schools,” Covington said. “Once the community has some buy-in, some ownership, then I believe we’ll have a better school.”
The district will hold the final public meeting tonight at West Oktibbeha County High School at 5:30 p.m.
The community is invited to attend and contribute any questions, comments or concerns to the Oktibbeha County School District.