By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
WELCH, W.Va. – The McDowell County Board of Education met Monday afternoon at a regular meeting to discuss the following:
POST-SECONDARY ACHIEVEMENT DATA
Dr. Ingrida Barker gave a presentation Post-Secondary Achievement from the previous school year, representing the percentage of grade 12 students who acquire credentials toward college and/or career readiness during high school.
“We didn’t get any accountability data last year because of COVID and school being let out, but there are some pieces of data we can collect and determine on our own to know where we stand,” said Superintendent Carolyn Falin. “I was pleased with what we found and I wanted her to share it with you all.”
“We took a look at graduates from last year. I had a list from each high and school and what we did, I went through the AP reports and if a student got a score of 3 or higher on an AP exam, they would get a checkmark. Or if they had a B or A on the dual credit course, they would get one. If they completed the CTC program, they could also get a checkmark,” explained Barker.
Out of Mount View High School’s graduating class of 64 students, 54 received at least one point.
“So 84% of our students at Mount View had some sort of post graduate credential,” said Barker.
At River View High School, 109 students graduated and 56 had some checkpoint from the indicators.
“That took them to 51.37% of the students with some sort of post graduate credential,” said Barker.
“On the 2018-2019 score card, our school system was at 53.84% so we’re still in the yellow if you take a look at how those percentage points are distributed. And Mount View was at 65.43% so in the blue (meeting standards), River View was in the red at 45.61% (not meeting standard).”
By the Central Office’s figures, Mount View was actually in the green with 84.37% of students exceeding standards, up from 65.43% the previous year. River View was at 51%, climbing from 45.61%.
“This year we are offering the dual credit English in both high schools so they will be getting credentials for that as well,” said Barker. “We have around 40 students involved in the dual credit course with Bluefield State College.”
Barker also explained that schools are working to identify students without post-secondary course achievement and hoped to enroll them in dual credit classes, AP classes or enrollment at the Career and Technical Center (CTC).
“With the dual credit classes, do we work with anyone besides Bluefield State College,” asked Board member Mike Callaway.
“We work with Bluefield state because that’s where most of our students go, so that we can transition them easier. Last year, we had some students go through WVU Tech because they have the early entrance courses. We just have a more formalized agreement with Bluefield State because in addition to the dual credit English, which gives them English 101 and 102, we are actually working to get mathematics for next semester if we have students that qualify.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, testing centers for ACT and SAT college entrance exams were shuttered, making it difficult to provide opportunities for students to participate. MCS has applied to be a national center for the SAT, according to Barker.
“Are we doing anything different at River View to see if we can’t get their percentages up,” asked Board President David Williams.
“Part of the icrease of percentage that you see is because we put criminal justice, nursing and careers in education in River View so the students wouldn’t have to travel as much. That’s why you see that increase and we will continue adding more,” said Barker.
As insightful as the information is, Superintendent Falin stressed that this wasn’t the accountability study from the State, but information compiled from in-house data by the Central Office. Post-secondary achievement is also but one area comprising the scorecard school rating system.
“It does show that we are making progress and I wanted you to know that,” said Falin. “There’s been a lot of hard work in the schools to improve that.”
Falin said Barker was also compiling data for on track to graduate students and would present her findings to the Board soon.
Joe Norris, Technology Integration Coordinator, described 2020 as the most challenging year for technology.
“We’ve taken on a lot of improvements and updates that will last for years to come for McDowell County Schools,” said Norris.
One improvement across the school system was switching internet service providers from Frontier to Shentel, doubling bandwidth capability across the school district for a lower price.
Approximately $380,000 was spent on internet access points at all 13 sites making up McDowell County Schools.
“We also installed exterior access points, so now we can basically go to any parking lot at our sites in the county and have internet access,” said Norris. “There is a State program called KidsConnect that supplied one access point to each school. We’ve added that in addition to the ones we installed at the sites, and it’s really excellent coverage.”
“It’s also a separate guest login that doesn’t connect into our regular network, so it’s safe,” said Falin.
“We have a lot of aging SMART boards that are aging and need to be replaced. We have a lot of aging teacher laptops that need to be replaced. A lot of counselor and administrative desktop computers are also needed,” said Norris.
Monday morning, Norris received notice that a long-awaited Chrome tablet order had shipped, bringing 69 tablets earmarked for Fall River Elementary School’s K-2 students.
“They have assured me that we’re at the top of the list and once they get the Chromebook shipment ready, we will receive them,” said Norris.
Norris spoke about the difficulties in acquiring portable devices such as laptops and tablets since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Virtually ever county school system was scrambling to get portable devices and it’s put such a strain on the supply that they’re just hard to get right now. Things like desktop, smart boards, printers, we still have about the same delivery time on them, but laptops, chromebooks, tablets have a long delivery time,” explained Norris.
“Are we having any troubles with schools losing connections,” asked David Williams.
“We did a training earlier and even with a 1000 mbs, we bottlenecked today with 159 teachers on. We had to turn our cameras off to try to slow that,” said Title 1 Director Amanda Peyton. “It’s a lot of data to run that many videos so we’ve just been trying to work through it. Just a different medium. We still have good teachers that know they’re content, it’s just a different way of presenting it and delivery models.”
“We’ve had some hiccups with it, but we’re working through it,” said Norris.
Near the end of the meeting, Carolyn Falin gave her Superintendent’s Update to the Board.
“I got a letter from Susan Beck, the director of Special Education at the State Department of Education. Mr. Lester and Ms. Hawks, and the Special Education Department are to be commended because they went back across 3 school years to determine if there was a disproportionality between the discipline of special education students and regular education students. This review indicated that we did not demonstrate significant disproportion,” explained Falin.
Falin was also happy to announce the groundbreaking ceremony for the new field house and central office complex at Mount View High School will be on Thursday, November 5th and 2 o’clock.
“We also had one positive staff member at Mount View and it resulted in a few students and staff members having to be quarantined,” said Falin.
“On the deep cleaning, do they clean the whole school or where they consider the teacher or students to have been,” asked Callaway.
“It depends on the situation. In most cases, it results in cleaning the entire school. The custodians have been wonderful, staying later and even coming in on weekends to get the job done,” said Falin.
Equipped with backpacks that spray cleaning mist, Falin estimated that Mount View High School could be cleaned in its entirety in 8 hours.
The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Monday, November 16th, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Center at 4:30. Masks are required for attendance and there will also be a live feed available online.