Nashville school presents report to public

    By John R. Schirmer
    News-Leader staff

    The Nashville School District presented its annual report to the public last week before the regular meeting of the school board. Administrators from each campus talked about the start of school and offered an overview of the year. The report is required by state law for all school districts.

    Primary school

    Principal Shirley Wright presented the report from Nashville Primary. Enrollment is 596 students, including 163 in kindergarten, 137 first grade, 156 second grade and 140 third grade.

    Primary has 64 total staff, including 48 certified and 16 classified. Twenty-five primary teachers have their master’s degrees and at least 15 hours of additional graduate areas. “I’m proud of this,” Wright said. Six have National Board Certification.

    The school is fully accredited by the Arkansas Department of Education. “The one citation we had of a special education teacher on an additional licensure plan has been completed, and all paperwork has been sent to the state department,” according to Wright.

    Primary’s educational goals “are to increase student achievement in the areas of language arts and math.” Primary is Title I schoolwide with funding and personnel assisting every student, Wright said.

    All K-3 students receive progress reports and report cards. Primary already listed each grade level’s expected proficiency reading level and the student’s performance level before a new law was enacted making the practice mandatory across the state.

    Parental involvement “is wonderful for our students. Agenda books and Nicky Folders serve as daily communications between students to parents. Each classroom teacher has various resources for other communications tools: Remind, Facebook, email and TAC. Our parents always attend any special event we have to support their children and our school,” Wright said.

    The Parent-Teacher Organization meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria.

    Students are in “a self-contained classroom, meaning they are assigned to one classroom and one teacher who teaches all the curriculum and Common Core standards in language arts, math, science and social studies. Students spend 40 minutes with a specialty teacher each day in [areas such as] art, guidance counseling, library, music and physical education.” Other areas on a rotating schedule are computer lab, Gifted and Talented, and keyboarding. Students have

    SCRAP time (Students Concentrated on Reading at Primary.)

    The new K-2 assessment will be with Renaissance, Wright said. Students will take computerized interim assessments throughout the year. Third graders will take the ACT Aspire.

    Elementary

    Principal Latito Williams said the theme at elementary is “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work – Together Everyone Achieves More.”

    Total enrollment is 508 students, “up considerably” from the previous year. There are 180 fourth graders, 168 fifth graders and 16-0 sixth graders.

    Goals include improving student performance in math, science and literacy; increasing student attendance; and utilizing “innovative methods to increase student reading achievement,” according to Williams.

    Elementary is fully accredited, with one teacher on an additional licensure plan.

    The school has a six-part plan to increase test scores, including faculty training, grade level meetings, Response to Intervention class period, wireless printers on ELA laptop carts, Reading A-Z levelized reading program, and Reading Masters program in fourth grade.

    Elementary has a new computer lab, and the school’s other lab is less than two years old, WIlliams said.

    STAR Reader results will be sent home twice per year as required by law.

    Elementary will utilize the “new ‘Sonday’ program” for dyslexia intervention.

    The school is “expanding the garden lab project, and we are in the process of finishing our outdoor classroom in the garden bed area,” Williams said.

    Resources are available to parents from a variety of methods, according to Williams. “Parents are encouraged to contact the school if they would like to receive more information regarding any services that might be available to help their child be a more successful student,” Williams said.

    Elementary uses social media, newsletters, school website, open house, parent-teacher conferences and other methods of reaching out to parents, Williams said.

    Junior high

    Nashville Junior High “is off to a fantastic start,” Principal Deb Tackett said. The theme is “Scrapper Stars: Shooting from Good to Great!”

    Total enrollment is 447, including 147 seventh graders, 148 eighth graders and 152 ninth graders.

    Goals include improving student performance in math, science, reading, writing and English in preparation for the ACT Aspire assessment, improving attendance, reducing student tardiness, and increasing reading.

    The five-part plan to increase test scores includes scheduling students into math lab if needed, morning tutoring, interim testing, literacy lab, and time for discussion of curriculum strategies.

    NJHS has initiated STARS groups – Student-Teacher Adviser Review System. Groups of students will meet with a staff member throughout the year “to build relationships, review academic progress, set goals, etc.,” Tackett said. “Staff members will be advocates for the students assigned to them.”

    The school added new surface around the pavilion for safety and to enhance general appearance, according to Tackett.

    Repairs were made to the driveway/bus drop point. New gutters were added to gym classrooms. Several sections of the building received new lighting.

    NJHS uses Remind, Home Access Center, Good News cards and conferences to help with parental involvement.

    High school

    “NHS … Choose Your Own Adventure” is the theme at high school.

    Principal Tate Gordon said the staff includes 38 certified personnel, 28 of whom hold master’s degrees, and five are National Board Certified.

    Enrollment is 389 students, including 127 sophomores, 130 juniors and 132 seniors.

    Gordon said that goals include improving student performance in all areas of the ACT and ACT Aspire, and improving sophomores’ reading skills.

    The Aspire improvement plan includes assessments for math, reading, writing and language arts, using IXL in sophomore math and language arts classes, using DOK 3 or higher questions in class, and use of ThinkCerca “as an interactive teaching tool in every core class and in Keystone classes.”

    NHS is fully accredited by the North Central Association.

    Parent/student orientation was held in July, Gordon said, with 86 percent of parents and students attending. They received planning guides for being an honor graduate, ACT national test dates, schedules, social media updates, PSAT test registration information, concurrent course requirements, overview of AP/blended courses, college application process, FAFSA information and updates, Arkansas Academic Challenge information, ASVAB information, and NCAA eligibility and core requirements

    NHS organizations using Facebook include FFA, band, the school’s official page, Scrapper publications, and NHS science.

    Teachers and counselors use Remind.

    Parents and students may download the school’s app on their iPhones or Android phones, Gordon said.

    After-school math tutoring is held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

    The school’s ACT scores were presented. There were 140 students who took the ACT during 2016-17, with an average composite of 18.6. The state average is 19.4.

    In addition, 133 juniors took the ACT offered at no charge by the state. The average composite was 17.7, compared to the state average of 18.8.

    Gifted and Talented

    Director Kristi Cox presented the Gifted and Talented program report.

    Enrollment includes whole group enrichment in K-3, fourth grade 8, fifth grade 10, sixth grade 16, seventh grade 15, eighth grade 13, ninth grade 12, sophomores 10, juniors 19 and seniors 21.

    Cox sees every student in grades K-3. “This helps with identification at the end of third grade. Teachers are accountable for teaching an enrichment lesson on the weeks I am not in their classroom.”

    Grades 4 and 5 have a 40-minute pullout program. Chess, quiz bowl and spelling bee are offered.

    Sixth grade Pre-AP classes are offered in math and literacy.

    Pre-AP and AP classes are available at junior high and high school, along with quiz bowl. High school students may take college courses. Spelling bee is offered in grades 7 and 8.

    Federal programs,

    curriculum

    Assistant Superintendent Joe Kell said the district receives almost $2.8 million in federal and special funding.

    Money from NSLA has doubled as the school has more students on free and reduced lunches.

    Funding goes toward a number of uses, including professional development, remediation, dyslexia intervention, career coach, nurses and many others.

    The ACT Aspire for grades 3-10 will be administered from April 9-May 11. Other tests are also scheduled.

    Kell said total enrollment for the district was 1,937 students as of Sept. 18, up 30 from the previous year.

    Ethnicity of the student population includes the following:

    African-American 22.8 percent

    Asian 0.26 percent

    Hawaiian/PI 0.10 percent

    Hispanic 22.88 percent

    Native American 0.36 percent

    White 52.12 percent