Savannah-Chatham public schools system seeks to make an impact on struggling schools

Savannah-Chatham Public Schools’ new chief academic officer Ann Levett has set out to profoundly impact academically struggling schools.

She has identified 11 elementary schools that will be the focus of a local reform effort called Impact.

Beginning this year, Brock, Hodge, Windsor, East Broad, Port Wentworth, Gadsden, Shuman, Garden City, Spencer, Haven and Thunderbolt schools will receive local assistance to improve staff performance and raise student outcomes. These schools are not necessarily the

district’s most troubled, but they are performing below expectations.

Many had half or more students fail to meet grade level standards on the math, science and social studies portion of the state benchmark test on at least one grade level.

None of these schools are on the state’s list of Focus, Alert or Priority schools, which would entitle them to extra state funding for academic support and reform. So the district has come up with a plan to assess each school’s needs and develop action plans for teacher training and academic program development.

“We are seeing some growth but not what we’d like to see,” Levett told the Savannah-Chatham Public School Board Wednesday. “We want to make sure all schools get what they need to move forward.”

A team of educators from a state agency designed to provide services promoting continuous school improvement in the region — the First District Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) — will go into each Impact school and provide an objective assessment of instruction, curriculum, assessment, management, leadership, professional development, parent involvement, discipline, safety, facilities and the adequacy of district support.

School staff will review the findings with district officials and use the information to set goals and develop a corrective action plan, which will be monitored and reviewed monthly.

Their goal is to correct the specific issues that result in ongoing academic struggles in these schools. The district will provide resources for special intervention and technical assistance until the superintendent determines they are able to move forward on their own.

Professional development is expected to begin in October, and corrective action plans should be underway by November.

“I applaud this, but I’m sorry it took us so long. It’s a shame that it has taken us this long to help them,” said school board president Joe Buck. “I’m anticipating that this will do for these schools what was done through the reforms at Beach and Groves. I think we have to get beyond accepting less than the best.”

Levett said similar local reform plans for struggling middle and high schools will be forthcoming.

“We have very carefully strategically and methodically developed a plan for how best we can work with staff to make this work,” Levett said. “The principals have been on board from the very day we started, and they see it as us collaborating with them and not us doing something to them.

“We will see changes before the end of the year.”

By Jenel Few
http://savannahnow.com

THIRD-GRADE OUTCOMES AT IMPACT SCHOOLS

School Math CRCT Science CRCT Social Studies CRCT

% failed % failed % failed

Brock 48% 59% 46%

Hodge 64% 66% 57%

Windsor 19% 19% 19%

East Broad 66.2% 69% 52%

Port Wentworth 18.8% 25% 23%

Gadsden 27% 32% 17%

Shuman 45% 50% 41%

Garden City 25% 39% 35%

Spencer 56% 37% 36%

Haven 59% 53% 50%

Thunderbolt 47% 50% 43%

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