D45 keeps ‘D’ while improving points

Barnwell District 45 came within two points of meeting the state's expectations, according to its 2014 federal report card.
The district maintained its ‘D' grade from 2013, though numerically they were 7.5 points higher than the year before. They received a 68.2 this year, which is up from 61.7 in 2013 and less than two points from meeting the state's expectations of a 70 or above, according to the report card.
"The grades are not where we want them to be, but we are making progress," said Superintendent Jay Grissom. "Our teachers and administrators have worked very hard, as have the students, to make these improvements."
On the school level, three of the district's four schools improved their 2013 grades. "I am delighted to say that we no longer have any failing schools," he said, though "our goal is for each of our schools to make an ‘A'."
Most notably, Guinyard-Butler Middle School is no longer classified as failing after receiving a 63.7 this year - up nearly 30 points from the 36.3 they received in 2013, according to the report card.
Barnwell High School also saw significant improvement, moving up two letter grades and 19.5 points. They received an 81.1 this year compared to a 60.6 last year, according to data.
"That is significant improvement by those two schools," said Grissom.
Gains were less significant at the lower two schools, including Barnwell Elementary which dropped nearly 10 points from 2013. They earned a 61.5 this year compared to 71.2 last year.
Barnwell Primary, which had the highest score of all the schools, advanced only a fraction of a point to 84.1 - up from 83.9 in 2013.
The school has been identified as a Focus School, which is defined under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act waiver the state received in 2012 from certain parts of No Child Left Behind. Focus schools must come up with a turnaround plan to address achievement gaps to be implemented for three years unless they meet exit criteria. They also must set aside the equivalent of 20 percent of the federal Title 1 funds they receive to assist with the plan's implementation, according to the State Department of Education's website.
"Their overall scores are very high. Their designation as a Focus School is because of the achievement gaps within the subgroups. Even with the gaps, both subgroups met the Annual Measurable Objective or were within the expected proximity," said Grissom of Barnwell Primary School's designation.
Grissom believes the district is on the right track to continue to improve and reach their goals. "We plan to continue utilizing the strategies we have implemented, namely thinking maps, direct vocabulary instruction, identifying similarities and differences, and setting objectives and providing feedback. These are well researched, proven strategies and their continued use will help us get to the achievement level we desire."