Brooke Board Questioned About New School Schedule

When the Brooke County school year begins in a few weeks, students, parents and staff will be adjusting to a new schedule that includes later pickups by school buses on Mondays and more staff meetings aimed at improving state test scores.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder said school buses will be picking up all Brooke County students an hour later on Mondays to allow teachers to meet to discuss strategies for improving reading and math scores on the state achievement test.

Amy Talbott, a science teacher at Wellsburg Middle School and parent of local school children, said she can envision the inconvenience the change will cause for working single parents of small children. But at the school board meeting, she expressed her main concern: that the meetings take away from instructional time.

“As a parent, I am livid. As a teacher, I’m more than upset because I don’t think we’re doing our kids justice,” Talbott told the board.

Talbott said in addition to one hour each Monday, Brooke County school officials have allocated 42 minutes of each day at the two middle schools for professional learning community meetings.

Kidder said during the meetings, teachers of English/language arts, math, science and social studies will gather to discuss and develop new teaching strategies. Valerie Smith, the school district’s curriculum director for grades 6-12, said the move is intended to help schools raise their reading and math scores and meet the status of adequate yearly progress set by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act requires states to set clear and high standards for what students in each grade should know, to measure student performance and to produce annual state and school district report cards reflecting progress.

Adequate yearly progress is defined by law as a proficiency in reading, demonstrated through state test scores, by at least 69 percent of pupils at an elementary school, 74 percent of pupils at a middle school and 72 percent at a high school; and a proficiency in math by at least 63 percent of pupils at an elementary school, 61 percent at a middle school and 57 percent at a high school.

Students at schools that receive federal Title I money and that have failed to meet the new guidelines may transfer to another public school at no cost to their parents.