The Richmond County Board of Education held its September meeting on Tuesday, and there was much talk of change for the county’s public schools.
The district’s director of testing and accountability, Steve Lear, said this year will be one of “major changes in foundation,” and cited specifics within curriculum, assessments, test delivery, item formats, accountability, growth calculation and more.
“It’s not new to have changes in curriculum,” Lear said. “What’s different is that we’ve had changes in everything.”
The district has moved from the North Carolina Standard course of study to new statewide Common Core State Standards. A 4th generation of assessment changes will also be implemented, in which students will move from paper and pencil tests to more frequent online testing.
“We think our students will love it because they’re already used to the computer and use it all the time,” Lear said.
With the new testing system, students will graduate from using only standard multiple choice item formats to a group of different formats, including constructed response, gridded response and technology enhanced answer choices.
“This takes a lot of the benefits of guess work out of tests,” Lear said of the new enhanced technology format, in which students will be expected to utilize techniques such as drag-and-drop when taking online assessments.
Within high schools, Lear said accountability systems will move from the former ABC and AYP format to a college and career ready format including AMOs, or Annual Measurable Objectives. Growth calculation will also expand from the ABC format to a new and challenging software program, Education Value Added Assessment System, or EVAAS.
In addition, MSLs, or Measures of Student Learning, AMOs and assignment of school grades will see changes during the 2012-13 school year.
Schools Superintendent George Norris also announced during the meeting Lear’s plans to retire, and congratulated him on many years of success with the school system.
In other action Tuesday:
• Jami Graham, director of Professional Development, recognized the 2011-12 Teacher Leadership Participants, a group of teachers that developed and implemented strategies to improve personal performance and attain individual and collaborative goals. The teachers recognized were Angela Boyette, Chip Gordon, Curt Locklear, Deborah Carter, Halena Brown, Jennifer Brach, Kevin Wallace, Lauren Swinnie, Lindsay Liddick, Rebecca Law, Victoria DeFrate, Chad Osborne, Christy Mabe, Darla McGuire, Forrest Shutt, Heather Bell, Jenny Williamson, Lane Street, Tara Allen and Windy Taylor.
• Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. presented a check to the board from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in the amount of $7,109.35, a sum that the sheriff said was derived of proceeds from drug enforcement.
• Dale Smith of Anderson, Smith and Wike PLLC, summarized the independent auditors’ report for the board, stating that the audit of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, went “very well overall.”
“We go to a lot of districts,” Smith said, “and you all have a very well-run finance department.” The board’s finance officer, Pam Satterfield, was commended for her efforts.
• Marsha Porter and Angela Watkins of Washington Street School presented a report in which the school’s teachers demonstrated various learning techniques they were implementing this year to match the new Common Core standards. Techniques included an emphasis in vocabulary and summarizing through methods such as Word Walls and Frayer models.
Board member Joe Richardson called the methods “most effective.”
“With the program I’ve seen tonight, I don’t see how you can be anything but successful,” Richardson said.
• Board members shared their experiences throughout the county on the first day of school, agreeing that the day went very smoothly and teachers and students seemed enthusiastic for the year to come. Several board members also commented on the welcomed addition of air conditioned gymnasiums and auditoriums at Monroe Avenue, Rohanen and Ellerbe Middle School.
• Board members also approved three field trip requests brought forth by Robert Beck, an associate superintendent.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.