I want to welcome everyone back for what I know will be another great school year. I want to share a few of our successes over the last year and also discuss changes and opportunities for improvement in the coming year.
SUCCESSES from 2016-2017
- Academic achievement continues to improve. Since 2012, the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) has been used as the comprehensive report card for all schools in Georgia, providing a score between 0-100 for each school. In Wilcox County, our school and district CCRPI scores continue to rise. All three schools are performing above the state average and have increased steadily since CCRPI scores began in 2012.
- Due to sustained growth with our graduation rate and academic achievement, Wilcox County School System was chosen as a FAB FOUR system. At each Georgia Educational Association Leaders (GAEL) conference, four systems are selected state-wide to share their school system’s successes. Curriculum Director Nathan Gibbs, Principal Gary Howell, Graduation Coach Aleph Fore, and I presented to a crowd of approximately 800 educators on Sunday July 9, 2017. Mr. Gibbs and Mrs. Fore have also presented at regional instructional leadership academies throughout the year.
- To increase student accountability, each student in grades 4-8 and students in Milestone tested courses in grades 9-12 completed a goal setting exercise. Students were provided training on their student longitudinal data system (SLDS) report which tracks a student’s attendance, enrollment history, grades, and test performance for their entire school career. Students collaborated to establish school, class, and individual achievement goals.
- Our Spanish club just returned from their second visit to Puerto Rico. Across the last two summers over thirty high school students have traveled abroad to study other cultures.
- Wilcox County High School (WCHS) met the criteria to exit the Priority School List. The high school has graduated each student that reached Senior status for the last two years and has a graduation rate above the state average. Numerous staff from other schools are visiting Wilcox schools to observe instructional strategies.
- The school system applied for and was awarded a School Improvement Grant (SIG). Over four million dollars of federal grant funds will be used over the next four years to improve technology, reward staff for continued improvement in student achievement, implement an employee education plan, employ instructional coaches, and expand after school programs.
- The parent pickup and drop off at Wilcox County Elementary School was adjusted and has received much praise from parents and grandparents. The new pickup and drop off procedure mirrors the design at the new school.
- Progress on the new PK-12 school is continuing on schedule. Tune it to next week’s edition of”The Wilcox Marketer” for photos of progress.
CHANGES for 2017-2018
- New Science and Social Studies standards in grades K-12 will be implemented in all of Georgia’s public schools beginning this school term. Review the new Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) for science and social studies at this website: https://www.georgiastandards.org/Georgia-Standards/Pages/default.aspx
- A new reading curriculum, Bookworms, will be taught in grades K-5. The curriculum has a proven track record of increasing literacy rates in young readers.
- With the addition of school improvement grant funding (SIG), the Patriot Academy for School Success (PASS) program is expanding to grades PK, K, and 1. See school PASS site coordinators to register your children for the PASS program.
- Patriot Period is expanding to all schools. This 25 to 40 minute class is designed to remediate and/or extend learning opportunities. Students can receive extra help in reading and math or expand their vocabulary which is vital to future school performance and success on the SAT, ACT, and other college entrance exams.
- Thirty high school students will be selected by teachers once school begins to participate in the 1st Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy. Students will meet once a month with Mrs. Sharon Lavender, Work Based Leaming Coordinator, and participate in lessons that build leadership skills. At the conclusion of the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy students are responsible for a community wide event that they plan.
- Board Meetings are going online. Check out our school system website to view documents discussed at monthly board of education meetings. https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/index.aspx?s=4178
- The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is now called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Georgia Department of Education is working to submit our state-wide ESSA plan to the United States Department of Education for review. ESSA regulates all federal dollars provided to public education. As changes occur, local school systems will be impacted.
- Instructional Coaches have been employed at all grade levels using school improvement grant funds. All coaches are certified teachers that have been employed within the Wilcox County School System and have a track record of success. The instructional coaches will directly support and supplement the work of classroom teachers. Also using school improvement grant funds, additional certified staff will be trained to become “Resident Experts” in certain areas. Resident Experts will focus on I Literacy, Student Attendance, Classroom Management, Data Analysis, School Climate, and Core Content.
- All Milestone assessments will be taken online using Chromebooks or computers. Georgia Department of Education is moving all assessments to an online platform. All students except grades 3 and 8 took assessments online last year. In 2017-2018, we will test all students online.
OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE in 2017-2018
- Student Absences continue to rise in our school system. Students missed 12,480 days of school in 2016-2017. This averages 10 days per student. Please ensure your child arrives on time to school and class and remains at school and in class all day.
- Increased expectations in Science and Social Studies due to the implementation of the new Georgia Standards of Excellence may require more study time in science and social studies. These courses have increased the rigor of standards and assessments.
- Changes to the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) are forthcoming with the reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The changes will require increases in student achievement and student growth.
- If construction continues on schedule, we will be moving into the new school next summer. THANKS for your continued support of our schools, our staff, and our students. We Believe in You!