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West End plots path for improvement

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
Oct. 9, 2003
West End Elementary School Principal Owida Roberts spent most of September meeting with each third grade class to discuss standardized test scores, performance levels and strengths and weaknesses of students.
Roberts' meetings were part of her school's plan of improvement.
West End Elementary and other Meridian public schools were charged last month with developing plans to improve their accreditation levels and student scores on standardized achievement tests.
The state Department of Education rated West End a Level 3, or "successful," school for the current academic year. The rating was up from the Level 1, or "low performing," accreditation it got last year.
Roberts attributes the school's improvement to the hard work of teachers and parents. Nevertheless, she has crafted a comprehensive plan that has four major goals for the school.
The goals: more students should read age-appropriate material; more than 75 percent of students should master subjects on statewide standardized tests; students should improve their test scores; and teachers and staff should receive more professional development.
For each goal, Roberts has plotted strategies that have changed day-to-day activities at the school including the use of computer software to prepare practice tests that mimic standardized tests.
Other strategies include an accelerated reading program and daily, 20-minute, one-on-one tutorials with teachers and students.
West End teachers and staff members also participate in a mentor program for new teachers. The school also has a goal to better incorporate technology into the curriculum.
Roberts said she is proud of the students' improvements in reading and math.
She said more than 50 percent of students scored "proficient" or "advanced" in reading and math and 99 percent of third-grade students met their benchmark in math. The benchmark determines whether or not a student passes the third grade.
But Roberts said more work needs to be done.