By LYDIA BERGLAR
The Dade County Board of Education held its regularly scheduled meeting on September 25, and all board members attended a training session and annual retreat the following day.
At the regular meeting, Superintendent Josh Ingle noted that WDEF News 12 featured Dade County twice. First, Al Barton’s business classes at Dade County High School were featured on the “What’s Right With Our Schools” segment. Second, Leah Bible at Davis Elementary received the Golden Apple Award.
The board recognized Landon Williams for his two wrestling state championship wins. Ingle presented Williams with a superintendent’s pin of excellence and athletic award to wear at graduation, and Coach Jeff Poston presented Williams with his second state ring.
Poston said, “The kid that [Landon] beat was ranked 14th in the nation, signed with West Virginia, and was supposed to be the best thing that ever happened to wrestling. He and his coach stood over by me and Landon, trying to get in his head. Not only did [Landon] beat the kid, but he completely dominated and pinned him.”
Brent Cooper, DCHS principal, added, “[Landon] represents our school as well as anybody…A lot of that has to do with his two parents and the job they’ve done at home with both their boys.”
Ingle then reported that thanks to Jonathan Gann (media arts teacher at Dade Middle School), the middle school guitar club received a donation of sheet music, 15 guitars, and ten headphones. Gann applied for this donation from Songbirds Foundation in Chattanooga.
The school system received its Certification of Accreditation, valid for six years. Ingle explained that the only required action accompanying the certification is to “develop and implement formative assessments in core content areas.” Assessments were further discussed later in the meeting.
Mindy Haworth (manager of the Dade County Public Library) presented to the board about several ongoing programs at the library that supplement students’ schooling. There have been 110 Time with Teacher tutoring sessions since June 26. The library continues to promote “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” and the weekly reading time for preschoolers. During this year’s summer reading program, pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade library patrons logged 102,599 minutes spent reading.
The library staff also visited all four Dade County schools, informing parents and teachers about PlayCards, visiting English classes, and demonstrating digital resources that are available to students. The library is also hosting field trips for kindergarten classes at Davis and Dade Elementary.
Chris Davis (coordinator of academics) then discussed academic assessment data which is gathered through end-of-course and end-of-grade testing. Assessments are split into four categories: Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
Reading and math had small decreases in scores. In the 2018-2019 school year, 43 percent of Dade County students were proficient in reading, but that dropped to 39.4 percent in the 2022-2023 school year. In math, 43.4 percent were proficient in 2018-2019 and 42.2 percent were proficient in 2022-2023.
Science and Social Studies saw major decreases. Science dropped from 51 percent proficient in 2018-2019 to 36.3 percent in 2022-2023. Social Studies dropped from 30.1 in 2018-2019 to 18.4 percent in 2022-2023.
Davis explained the plans to address these declining scores. First, principals are to focus primarily on monitoring instruction by being able to identify good instruction and by being in the classrooms every day. In order for this to happen, the schools are rearranging principals’ work loads. Davis said, “We’ve looked at what is on the administrator’s plates right now, and we’ve taken some of those things off so they can focus primarily on instruction.”
The schools are also breaking down the date. Davis said, “That’s what we’ve been doing since we got these scores. We’re trying to figure out why that student that was ‘Proficient’ is now ‘Developing,’ why they’ve moved, and we’re working on finding ways to intervene for that student.”
Davis noted that all teachers are following new math standards, which presents a challenge to both them and the students. He reported that six teachers are pursuing Gifted Endorsements through the Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA)
He explained that the Georgia Early Literacy Act (K-3), passed by House Bill 538, pushes for universal reading screener three times per year and for all reading teachers to be trained in “the science of reading.” However, what qualifies as training in the science of reading is currently unknown.
Board member Jayne Griffin (At-Large) inquired further about the data and plans to address these scores, saying, “It’s great for us to [be above the state average]…but even though the state average is something to aim for, 50 percent of our kids are still not proficient. We’re doing great compared to the state, but those individual children…that doesn’t mean much for them.”
Griffin asked what the board needs to know to help improve all students’ scores. Davis noted training for teachers, particularly training here at the schools that does not detract from teachers’ time in the classroom, and intervention programs.
The personnel report is as follows:
- Resignation: Tina Castleberry
- Hire (Paraprofessional): Bailey Godwin
- Substitute Teacher: Chaley White
- School Nutrition Hire/Resignation: Andrea Spurlock – resignation, Jessica Talley – Fulltime worker