District targets five struggling schools for extra help to boost achievement

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District targets five struggling schools for extra help to boost achievement

By RACHEL HEATON
rheaton@islandpacket.com
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2012   |  339 Words  |  
  • Five struggling Beaufort County schools will get extra help this school year to boost student achievement.
  • The Beaufort County Board of Education heard a report Tuesday on how district officials plan to increase student performance on standardized tests at St. Helena Elementary, Broad River Elementary, Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary, Whale Branch Elementary and Whale Branch Middle schools.

    Though plans are not yet set in stone, some options include extending instruction time for some students to 5 p.m. twice a week, increasing training for teachers and providing reading and math coaches.

    At least two of the schools -- St. Helena Elementary and Whale Branch Elementary -- could see class sizes capped at 20 students, which may mean adjustments to student class placement in the next few weeks.

    Superintendent Valerie Truesdale told the board she doesn't anticipate additional costs from the changes. Instead, resources and funding would be shifted from other areas toward the five schools, which have struggled to close achievement gaps and meet state averages on standardized tests for four years.

    School board members asked about the extra tutoring time proposed on Tuesdays and Thursdays at some schools. Board member Michael Rivers asked how this tutoring would be different from other extra instruction time St. Helena Elementary had done in the past.

    School officials told the board the tutoring would be done by the children's teachers -- people who know their strengths and weaknesses.

    Truesdale said more concrete plans for the schools will be made, and changes will be implemented in the next few weeks.

    Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

    Related content:

    St. Helena Branch Library lease: County's $150K gain would be school district's pain; Aug. 15, 2012

    Beaufort County students continue gains on state assessments; Aug. 2, 2012