Rural high schools are issued high marks

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

The rural high schools in Roosevelt County got high marks issued to them through the state’s School Grading System.

High schools in Dora, Elida and Floyd school districts earned A’s for the 2012-2013 school year, according to the state’s Public Education Department school grades which were issued Thursday.

According to the schools’ report cards, the high schools excelled in areas including college and career readiness and student growth.

Dora Schools Superintendent Steve Barron said he saw an improvement in his high school from last year and was happy there were A’s across his district.

“I’m very excited and very pleased with our grades and want to give all the credit to my students and my staff,” Barron said. “We’re preparing them for the future the best we can and trying to provide them the best education possible. We take our children’s education very seriously with everything.”

Barron says it’s the tight-knit community in Dora which contributes to a successful district because teachers know their students and won’t let them fall behind.

“We don’t let them get there, we notice homework’s not being done, we’re on them,” Barron said. “We try to know each one of our students.”

Barron added the style of teaching his staff practiced is highly effective because they adapt to the way their students learn.

“We try to teach them the way they learn because every child learns differently,” Barron said. “We’re trying to equip them with the right tools so they can be successful. I also want to give credit to our parents. They are big supporters. They help us educate our children. It’s a team effort. It takes a community, it takes a team and we have a strong team and that’s where you get big results like this.”

Floyd schools Superintendent Paul Benoit saw improvements at the high school and elementary school level, but the middle suffered a large dip, dropping from a B to D grade in the course of a year.

“I don’t mind the accountability, I don’t mind the assessment but I would like to understand it better,” says Benoit. “Looking at individual scores, it looks like we maintained and didn’t make any gains. You have to show growth. We’re going to have to look at that and identify the students who didn’t show growth and intensify their academic fitness classes.”

Benoit says the dip in the middle school score reflects the importance of a grant that’s used for after-school enrichment programs. Since the grant was not renewed last school year, Benoit said the effects were felt.

“It’s amazing what the absence of a year can make. Our middle school students often utilize (the program),” Benoit said.

Floyd’s elementary school moved up a grade from a C to a B and Benoit attributes it to the faculty’s focus on the lower achieving students.

“We have a very strong three-tiered intervention system,” Benoit said.

Benoit says students who don’t meet reading standards are given extra time to read so the issue is addressed. He says the same applies for math.

And at the high school level, Benoit says they identified students who struggled with the New Mexico Standards Based Assessment tests and provided them with additional instruction.

“Our teachers are doing an excellent job,” Benoit said. “They understand the importance of engaging parents.”

Benoit added that he feels the PED’s Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera’s goals are positive and she’s trying to listen to teachers and administrators.

Elida Superintendent Jim Daugherty saw a drop in the school grade of the district’s elementary school from a B to a C.

“We lost credit in extra curricular. I’m disappointed in that,” Daugherty said. “I just like to see the criteria used to determine the bonus points. We sent in a list and evidently it didn’t meet their criteria.”

Elida’s high school maintained its A grade and to Daugherty that comes at no surprise. He said he is proud of both schools, regardless of what the grades say.

“We certainly want to work on improving. We just have good students and good teachers and we do the best we can to provide a good education,” Daugherty said.

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