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Lafayette High School Makes Improvements in Curriculum, Graduation Rates

Lafayette County High School received an A, the highest grade possible, on their “No Child Left Behind” report card this past year, an increase from the B received in 2013.
lhsPatrick Robinson, LHS principal, and Adam Pugh, Lafayette County School District superintendant, agree that the improvement was the result of teachers in the school focusing more on what individual students are learning, as opposed to focusing on the actual lessons being taught.
According to Jeremy Stinson, curriculum coordinator for LCSD, the school accomplished this by giving more tests in a shorter time. By doing this, teachers can determine which students are ready to move on to the next lesson and which students need to spend more time with the previous material.
Although Pugh and Robinson agree that the report card increase wasn’t caused by a change in curriculum, change is coming. The school district is in the process of making the transition to the new Common Core Curriculum, which started three years ago.
The Common Core Curriculum standards are “fewer and deeper, but more rigorous” than previous standards, according to Stinson. It will allow teachers to go deeper into each lesson to ensure that the learning style of each student is met. The students will also be given a performance-based assessment with more open-ended questions.
In addition to improving their report card score, LHS also increased their graduation rate by more than six percent last year. Robinson and Pugh credit this increase to the extra help given to students who are at risk.
Students are considered at risk if they meet any of a number of standards, including poor test scores and falling behind their age group. When he is concerned about a student, Robinson immediately calls the student’s parents to inform them that their child is considered “at risk”. Many opportunities are available to these students, including after-school tutoring and remedial courses to ensure they are caught up with their peers.
“Each student isn’t going to fit the mold of the traditional student,” Robinson said. “We try to individualize the best we can to ensure that every student will be successful.”
In order to help students be successful, the school will offer an ACT preparation course next year. The course teaches students test standards and helps them prepare for the ACT exam. Teachers are also incorporating the test preperation into their Common Core Curriculum lessons in order to help students improve their ACT scores.
“I want students to get a score that will help them get a scholarship or financial aid for college,” Robinson said.
Pugh and Stinson believe the new processes are working. The school’s focus is now on staying ahead of the curve, and they expect report card scores and graduation rates to improve across the district.
– Cassidy Hopkins is a student at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She can be reached by emailing cbhopkin@go.olemiss.edu.

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