By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Oktibbeha County School District will work to raise graduation rates and decrease drop-outs in 2012 to meet the school board’s goal of a 73 percent graduation rate.
“I think we’re headed in a positive direction,” Superintendent James Covington said. “We’ve made some changes instructionally. We’re monitoring student progress daily with the Easy Test Tracker system and are modifying instruction based on need on a daily basis.”
Easy Test Tracer allows teachers and administrators to view data and test results instantly on both the individual or group level. Administrators hope the system will prevent students from falling behind and allow teachers to identify any weaknesses.
2011 brought a mix of challenges and successes for the district.
West Oktibbeha County Elementary School had a 23-point increase in its Quality Distribution Index score, which is based on state test scores. The school went from a ranking of academic watch with a QDI score of 124 in 2010 to being named a successful school with a score of 147.
The school made huge strides in a short period of time after being labeled a failing school in 2009. The district would like to repeat WOCES’ success with the other schools where the scores have not been as favorable — East Oktibbeha County Elementary School and West Oktibbeha County High School were each labeled as low performing, while East Oktibbeha County High School was labeled as failing.
The district completed construction on the new educational building in the summer. The old building was heavily damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, so the superintendent’s office moved to an office space next to Dirt Cheap on Louisville Street for several years.
The new building, located on Main Street, allows the school district to operate in a more professional manner, Covington said.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “It has afforded us with a personal office space to conduct the district’s business efficiently and more professionally.”
Looking forward to 2012, the district is aiming to meet the school board’s goal of 60 percent proficiency in testing, in addition to addressing graduation rates.
“We’re monitoring seniors very closely as they take the subject area tests and making sure the kids have what they need to meet state, district requirements,” Covington said. “We’re so small at those schools, so we know where those students are and where they need to be. We have student advisory groups where teachers are assigned a student from 9th through 12th grade and work to keep them motivated. We see when and where we’re losing them and we help them stay in school.”
Both high schools are conducting after-school tutoring and WOCHS has added Saturday school to focus on the state tests and target those students that are having difficulty.
The district also hopes to increase teacher supplement in 2012.