At its monthly board meeting, Oct. 14, Success Preparatory Board members continued to discuss aggressive strategies to improve the school performance score — 54.2 — recently assigned by the state Department of Education.
Any score below 60 is equivalent to an “F” in the state’s revamped grading system. Scores are based on student testing, attendance and drop-out rates.
In response, Success Preparatory Academy has inaugurated a multi-point action plan to improve math and reading scores. He action plan incorporates traditional as well as innovative methods.
A traditional method is to re-teach lessons based on questions that the majority of students got wrong and then re-testing to see if the lesson has been absorbed.
“The great thing about (this test) is that it breaks things into strands and specific areas you need to work on,” said Tom McPherson, academic director. “It gives you standards that you should prioritize based on how much they’re worth on the (statewide LEAP test). So, you know, I’m not going to spend as much time on vocab if it’s worth ten points when I should be putting a lot of focus on grammar, which is worth 40 points.”
Untraditional techniques include using every minute of the school day for instruction, including having teachers quiz students with flashcards for 15 minutes each morning as they arrive at school and line up for assembly.
“We try to not waste a second, because we don’t have that to waste,” said Erik Kelt, upper school dean.
School officials will pay special attention to reading scores, an area where students are underperforming. This is especially true of the school’s fourth grade class, where 26 of 60 students are reading at a second-grade level.
Board members noted that many of the students have come from other schools, making them new to Success Prep. The school will put a Response-to-Intervention program in place that better evaluates students with special needs.
In related business, board members discussed bringing in volunteers to help students with reading. Many parents and colleagues have shown interest, but the board is researching what types of background checks are needed to satisfy student safety regulations.
In other business, board members announced that they have raised $22,000 toward a $60,000 goal in just the first two months of the school year. Donations include sponsorships for the school’s classrooms and library from friends, colleagues and their college alma maters.
All agreed that the money needs to keep coming in. Board members discussed how to use more than $1 million from the Recovery School District’s master plan for renovating and refurbishing the school. Work will begin in 2012.
The board hired Daniel O’Connell, former Finance and Operations intern, as director of finance.
The next meeting will be on Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m.