Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 22, 2013

With an eye on progress

Athens ISD continues work to improve accountability ratings

Jayson Larson
The Athens Review

ATHENS — The Athens Independent School District Board of Trustees on Thursday evening was updated on the wide-reaching efforts to improve on federally-mandated accountability standards.

Athens ISD is currently in Stage 2 of the Adequate Yearly Progress program — a federal system which gauges student performance. AISD was placed in Stage 2 of AYP because one group of students did not meet federally-mandated testing progr-ess in either math or reading for at least two years. In Athens, those groups included African Americans, Hispanics, special education students and those who speak limited English.

AISD Director of Federal Programs Diana Vaughn briefed the board on the district’s overall improvement plan for the 2012-2013 school year. That plan targets areas including student performance on state assessments, increasing cultural diversity and staff development and ensuring students receive adequate support and placement.

Assistant Principal Cedric Barrett and Master Teacher Shannon Pursley gave an update of the progress of Athens Middle School, which has been assigned a Stage 1 of intervention for math and reading. The presentation was given to satisfy the Texas Education Agency’s public reporting requirement for school improvement.  

Barrett and Pursley spoke about several programs AMS has undertaken to improve student performance. Many of those efforts aim for individual assessment and intervention, including the school’s “Study Island” program and before- and after-school tutorials. Additionally, issues are being addressed through continued staff development and by using elective teachers — including those in the subjects of art and physical education — to assist in extra math and reading intervention.

Trustee Ginger Kirk said during the next budget process, she would like the board to discuss using social workers to assist schools with their intervention strategies. Those workers could help with making home visits to struggling students, for example.

“I think we’ve got the knowledge and the programs in place,” Kirk said, “but the teachers can’t do it by themselves. I think that could be the missing piece of the puzzle.”

The board also voted unanimously to eliminate the position of coordinator of student support services held by Stacy Loyless — who previously served as high school principal. In other personnel action, trustees unanimously approved the contracts of 20 administrators — including principals Renee Campbell (Bel Air Eleme-ntary); Eugene Buford (South Athens Eleme-ntary); Ginger Morrison (Athens Intermediate); and Jami Ivey (Athens High School) — for the 2013-2014 school year.