TYLERTOWN — Several county principals updated Walthall school board members on their goals for the year at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Salem Attendance Center principal Vanessa Boyd said she and her staff had bumped up expectations incrementally from last year’s results.

“We don’t want to be unrealistic,” Boyd said. “We want to set achievable goals. We always say if you have a goal and a prize, you can do it.”

She said the school is aiming to push for more growth and proficiency in math more quickly than in English, because math scores on the state tests are lagging significantly behind English scores at Salem.

Boyd said she hopes a new U.S. history teacher will help push those test scores significantly higher, and that she hopes another new teacher in seventh- and eighth-grade science and biology will be able to maintain performance in that subject.

She also hopes to raise the school’s college and career readiness marks, which are based on ACT scores, and the graduation rate; and expects an increase in the school’s acceleration score, because more students are enrolled in dual-credit courses.

Dexter Attendance Center principal Kim Brumfield took a different approach.

“We went for big goals,” Brumfield said.

Dexter will seek to almost double proficiency levels in English and math, and Brumfield expects its consultants from Bailey Education Group to be more effective than before.

“We’ve never had so many days with them in the building,” Brumfield said. “We have a lot of support this year.”

With only one tested grade, and having that for the first year, Tylertown Primary School principal Robin Duncan said she hoped to get at least 60 percent of students on or above grade level.

For the third-graders, which were just placed under TPS’s umbrella this year, she said she set a goal of at least 40 percent of students scoring proficient or better on the state test, and 77 percent of students making a passing score.

She also wants to start an afterschool program three days per week for third-graders, so they can have an additional hour and a half to work on mastering necessary skills. Federal funds will finance the program.

All three principals said their schools have begun using a program called Eureka Math, which is available as consumable workbook-type texts or online.

Each principal said the program should improve math performance, but its use is being eased into place.

Boyd described the program as more rigorous, and hence more challenging.

“From what I’ve seen, you need a physicist to do (Eureka), not a regular student,” board attorney Conrad Mord commented.

“We’ve had a lot of parents complain, but if we’re going to be successful, this is what we have to do,” Boyd said.

She said one her teachers, Karen Tynes, had told her, “If we go total Eureka, they’ll all fail,”and she assured the teacher that Eureka could be blended with other approaches.

The program has been implemented in every grade, so students starting on the lowest levels will be more familiar with the program when they reach higher grade levels.

Brumfield said the struggles with Eureka Math have led her staff to pulling out some students from other classes or activities to reteach skills students haven’t grasped from the Eureka lessons.

“I can see this being awesome,” Boyd said. But, “if we teach just this (now), we’re not doing anything.”

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