Board of Education expected to vote on Thursday

Craven County Board of Education members are expected to vote Thursday on steps designed to improve three elementary schools recently labeled as low performing based on state standards.

One of those is Roger Bell Elementary School in Havelock, while the others are Oaks Road in New Bern and Farm Life in Vanceboro. All three received grades of a D — translating to a number grade of 40 to 54 — for the past school year in grading from the state.

School board members and administrators have vocally opposed the state grading system used for schools, calling it “unfair” and petitioning legislators for higher teacher pay as recently as a few weeks ago during a breakfast held at the district office.

However, most of the information in the proposed plan involves evaluating teacher performance and overseeing their work in the classroom.

In the analysis conducted by the school district at Roger Bell Elementary, a “large deficit was noted with fifth-grade students’ performance in reading, math and science.” The review of additional data from the state indicated an “immediate need to address the teachers in fifth grade,” the report states.

“It was determined that the changes in teachers and student alignment were needed to improve student outcomes,” the report states.

For fourth-grade students, an area of concern was reading, and it was also noted that fourth-grade performance was impacted by the teachers, according to the information submitted in the plan.

One of the goals stated includes increasing proficiency by 10 percent and exceeding growth on the reading and math EOG tests in the spring.

A strategy to achieve this goal, which has begun, includes reassigning teachers at grade five and monitoring performance at grades four and five. To achieve this, steps such as frequent walk-throughs of classrooms, checking lesson plans and monitoring benchmark data will be taken, according to the plan for Roger Bell.

The preliminary report, expected to be voted on by the Board of Education during its meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, then will be sent to the State Board of Education for approval and feedback.

Crystal Garrett is a reporter for the Sun Journal.