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Meridian principals nix electives, PE for poor-performing students

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
Sept. 23, 2003
Meridian's middle and junior high principals said they aren't satisfied with their schools' performances and some have eliminated electives and physical education for students who are performing poorly.
Phillip Daniels, principal of Kate Griffin Junior High School, is leading the charge for eliminating elective classes and physical education for some students.
Curt Pouncey, principal of Northwest Junior High School, said he agrees that students who scored in the "basic" or "minimal" categories on the Mississippi Curriculum Test should not take elective courses.
The MCT is a standardized test that gauges reading, language and math; the test is given each year to students in the second through eighth grades.
Students in the ninth grade and above don't take the MCT. Those students take the subject area test, which gauges their achievements in biology, algebra, U.S. history and English.
The principals' comments came during a work session Monday of the Meridian School Board.
The work session is the second of three in which principals from each city school presented or will; present their MCT scores, subject area test scores and a specific plan for school improvement.
R.D. Harris, principal of Meridian High School, will present his school's improvement plan Oct. 13. Elementary school principals presented their improvement plans last week.
The presentations are a part of an attempt to bring Meridian's low-performing schools up to the state average on the MCT and the subject area test. Each school will release a report card showing all test scores and the school's accreditation level.
Report cards issued by the Mississippi Department of Education are available on the agency's Web site:
Kate Griffin Junior High School and Carver Middle School are the only Meridian schools to receive a Level 1, or "low-performing," accreditation for the 2002-2003 school year. Meridian had six Level 1 schools the previous year.
Earnest Ward, principal of Carver Middle School, said he is working closely with teachers and students to improve the school's accreditation level.
Cythia Pouncey, principal of Magnolia Middle School, said her toughest challenge is maintaining and improving upon her school's Level 4, or "exemplary," rating.
Principals' Poll
The Meridian Star asked principals of the city's middle and junior high schools to name the most important part of their school's improvement plan. Here is what they said:
Earnest Ward, Carver Middle School: "To identify those students in the minimum' and basic' categories (on the Mississippi Curriculum Test) and provide prescriptive strategies for them to help move them into the proficient' and advanced' categories."
Curt Pouncey, Northwest Junior High School: "The improvement of our staff. We have made strides to improve the caliber of instruction. Also, the implementation of extended day programs."
Phillip Daniels, Kate Griffin Junior High School: "To provide for those children who scored the lowest (an) additional math class and an additional writing class."
Cythia Pouncey, Magnolia Middle School: "Focusing on the students individually, helping them to perform to the best of their ability.