Board OKs plan to improve middle school test scores

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Central Middle School will spend $12,000 to buy more SMART Boards and $6,000 on a "MAP Academy" to prepare students for state tests, under a school improvement plan approved by the Cape Girardeau School Board Wednesday.

The plan is required by the state because the middle school failed to make adequate yearly progress on state tests the past two years in math and communication arts.

The district has been given $40,000, spread over two years, from the federal government to improve progress.

The MAP Academy will be held over six days after school, mostly likely in April, and will be open to every student. Transportation will not be provided, but principal Mark Kiehne hopes at least 70 to 75 percent will attend because of incentives to be offered. During the sessions, teachers will review subject material and provide students with test-taking strategies. Two thousand dollars will go toward teacher training for the academy.

Junior high and high school administrators were also required to write school improvement plans because state testing standards were not met. However, because the schools are not Title I schools and do not receive federal funding, they do not face the same consequences if standards are not met.

The junior high's plan calls for investigating the possibility of a "more traditional middle school model," with an emphasis on the "team teaching approach." Interim superintendent Pat Fanger said junior high students typically do better when the day is structured more along an elementary, versus a secondary, model. At the junior high, and throughout the district, a second parent-teacher conference will be offered in the spring next year.

Preparing for Academic Success classes were the focus of the high's schools improvement plan. The classes, approved in the fall, will add an additional 30 minutes to the school day for the teaching of social skills, the development of graduation plans, and for tutoring.

Also at the meeting the board approved a bid from Sides Construction to renovate part of the administrative offices to house the Alternative Education Center. At $1.507 million, the bid was the lowest out of five received. The next lowest bid was from Zoellner Construction Co. Inc., at $1.602 million.

The $1.507 million includes two additions to the project, an extra classroom and an expanded multipurpose room, requested after a series of meetings with staff from the alternative school.

The alternative school is currently located in the old Shultz school, and will move to its new location over the summer.

The board went into closed session around 7:15 p.m. to discuss candidates for superintendent, but made no announcement following the session. Board president Dr. Steve Trautwein said he expected to name the superintendent today, after the three finalists had been contacted. The board has 72 hours under Missouri Sunshine law to announce any votes taken in closed session.

lbavolek@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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