The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Athens & Limestone County Today

February 25, 2013

Education officials steering away from AYP

(Continued)

Graduation rates

The 2020 plan establishes a 72 percent baseline graduation rate from 2012. The goal for 2013 is 73 percent, 76 in 2014 and 78 in 2015. The four-year target is 80 percent, and the goal by 2016 is to reach or exceed 90 percent.

Stringham said Limestone’s objective is to achieve a perfect graduation rate from a system with approximately 9,100 students, even if this goal isn’t necessarily realistic. The graduation report for the previous school year is pending because school systems are allowed to count fifth-year seniors, including special education students.

“Our goal is 100 percent. We want all kids to graduate. I know it’s a lofty goal but it’s so important,” she said. “We want every child to be a graduate, and to have all their dreams come true and not have any doors closed to them.”

New additions

Learning Focused, a program focused on “improving how teachers teach,” is being piloted at Tanner this year, Stringham said.

“The other thing we’re doing all over the state is implementing the new college and career-ready standards,” she said. “It started in 2012-13 with math for K-12, and English for K-12 will be implemented in 2013-14. And we’re probably going to have our (local) board adopt our new diploma, which opens up more options for kids in their electives.”

Stringham said the new diploma would include Career Preparation, a three-part course mandated for ninth-graders beginning in the fall.

“It includes financial literacy, a computer and online portion and academic and career planning. Everyone is really excited about having a financial literacy course, and that piece for career planning,” she said.

Going digital

Stringham said the Central Office is currently working on boosting infrastructure capable of handling additional technology.

“We’re working on building our infrastructure, our wiring and our wireless and bandwidth connections to be the best it can be so there won’t be any crashes or meltdowns when the time comes to add more digital devices,” she said.

Digital learning is a key trend for educators, Stringham said. She said 70 iPads are shared among students at Tanner, and two elementary schools also have iPads through federal funding.

“We are keeping our eye on the digital world, and what digital learning will mean to kids. We have the beginning of a plan for this, and we’re monitoring what other school systems are doing with digital resources,” she said. “We want our kids to have a 21st century education, also. I don’t have a crystal ball but if financially possible, we would like to see every child have a digital device to use in the classroom, whether it’s an iPad, laptop or a desktop computer.”

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