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Lawton Public Schools aim to improve school report cards

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- As the first semester comes to a close and students are focusing on improving their grades, teachers and staff in the Lawton Public School District are doing the same thing--hoping to improve their recent grades from The State Board of Education. 

The A-through-F grading system was created five years ago to give parents and educators a way to gauge the effectiveness of individual schools.

Out of the 26 schools in the Lawton Public School district, only Freedom Elementary and Woodland Hills received A’s.
Hugh Bish made the biggest improvement, by jumping from a 'F' to a 'B'.
On the other end of the spectrum, Lawton High and Central Middle had the lowest scores, both making a 'D'.

Both schools are applying more hands on teaching methods and working one on one with students. Instead of having practice tests throughout the year, they are applying more information from the state test and teaching it in the classroom.

Hugh Bish principal Sherry Havron was hired in May 2015, knowing she had challenges to face, inheriting the only school in the district to receive an "F". One of the first things she did was attend a school turn around initiative at The University of Virginia where she learned several techniques to help change the way teachers present information to the students, particularly when it comes to standardized tests.

"Here is what the state says I need to teach, here's how I'm going to test it. This is what my test will look like now how do I them ready to show mastery and that they know and understand the standard", said Havron.

"We also taught things through visual aids, we have taught through hands on to make sure we have tapped in different learning styles."

Havron said the staff and students excelled under the new system so much so that she was disappointed  that this year's grade wasn't higher.

" I thought we had a B plus or A minus. I had studied those scores and I was telling the teachers there is no way, we are in such good shape", said Havron.

Across town at Central Middle School principal Blake Thomas is facing a similar challenge now.  Teachers are working together and looking at test scores to see how students are doing every week in the classroom.  

"After Christmas break we are going to do a morning tutoring program before school. We have already identified students and teachers that are going to come in the morning to work with those students in smaller group instruction", said Thomas.

Thomas said they have put a schedule in place to review progress throughout the year, starting with their fall break, then again before Christmas, and again during spring break.  He's stressing to his staff to not dwell on last year's poor showing, but to use that  'D' as motivation. 

"I told them the best thing about this is that we are going to go from that D plus to that B or A. I really want us to show that big jump", said Thomas.

Thomas and Havron said with the progress the schools have made so far they will be rewarding students with different incentives.

Compared with last year, Schools across the state received less "A" and "B" and "D" grades but more schools fell in the "C" and "F" grade categories.

These report cards are likely to be the last using the A-F system that has been in effect since the 2012 school year. 

According to the Department of Education Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a new state law, House Bill 3218, the Oklahoma State Department of Education is developing a new school accountability calculation to take effect next year.
Some of the changes with the new system are fine tuning accountability and making the connection to college and career preparedness for Oklahoma students. 

Each school report card is listed on The Oklahoma Department of Education website.

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