Tuesday, September 2, 2008

J. Kenan Applies New Programs to Raise Test Scores

J. Kenan applies new programs to raise test scores

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 7:47 AM CDT
KENANSVILLE — Low academic performance at the James Kenan High School has brought about changes by administrators in an effort to help students learn and succeed in the classroom.

Two years ago, the high school was listed by the state as a “low performing school.” State officials, according to Tony Faison, assistant principal at James Kenan, said nine of the 10 low end-of-grade test scores came from freshmen. Faison attributes the low freshman scores to immaturity. That’s where the school board has targeted change in a new school reform model, titled the “Talent Development Model.”

The transition from middle school to high school brings about many changes for the incoming students, said Faison, more independence and responsibility. Poor decisions can be made in those early years, resulting in a negative life outcome.

In a new “learning model” called the “freshman academy,” freshman of the high school will be grouped together. Students who share the same homeroom teacher will comprise a group, and will take the same classes together throughout the day. The idea, said Faison, is to instill a sense of camaraderie, unity and brotherhood, “really just to show love,” said Faison.

Freshman will be separated from other classmen throughout their daily schedule, hopefully building strong lasting relationships with their groups and fellow colleagues.

The academy is part of a two pronged effort to raise test scores at the school. Along with the Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, STEM, school. Administrators are hoping students will benefit.

“We want both models to work for kids; we feel they will,” said Cary Powers, assistant superintendent of Duplin County schools.

The school system will also implement two other learning strategies this year. The first, Study Island, a web-based computer program will allow students to learn at their own individual pace. The program, according to Powers, is customizable by teachers, and will aid in student learning. Topics, like math and reading could be assigned to students and could be further designated by teachers to include a subcategory. After each web-lesson, students can expect about 20 questions on the learned material. The program can be accessed just about any where, said Powers.

The second strategy calls for better communication between teachers. Teachers at every grade level will now be expected to communicate with teachers of the next grade level. The goal is help teachers keep kids from “slipping through the cracks” said Powers.

By Michael Connolly
Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 2, 2008 7:47 AM CDT

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