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Halifax principals go to class to upgrade schools

Posted July 27, 2009

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— Four weeks before Halifax County students return to class, school was in session Monday for their principals.

The state Department of Public Instruction sent coaches to the school district to help administrators provide effective instructional leadership. The class is part of the state's effort to boost student performance in the struggling district.

Halifax County school students, school generic State seeks to boost Halifax students' test scores

More than 71 percent of the district's elementary school students aren't proficient in reading, and 74.3 percent of middle school students aren't proficient, according to state figures. At the high school level, about one-third of the students are considered proficient on end-of-course tests, compared with 68 percent statewide.

The performance prompted Superior Court Judge Howard Manning to call for a state takeover of the district, calling continued poor performance "academic genocide." Manning has long overseen the academic performance of state schools after a ruling several years ago in a case that sought to get more state support for school districts in low-income and rural areas.

Gov. Beverly Perdue, state education officials and Halifax school administrators said the effort – the first of its kind in North Carolina – isn't a state takeover. Instead, they viewed it as a partnership to ensure local students keep pace with their peers statewide.

"Part of my role as the leader of this effort is to come and let you know I'll be a part of it with you," Perdue said. "I trust what Howard Manning has said. I trust what he's told us about the system. In his order, he continues to talk about educational genocide, and we want today to be an end to any of those kind of labels to any kid or any system in the state."

In addition to putting principals through three weeks of training and teachers through two weeks, Halifax schools have agreed to hire 12 "master teachers" and three "transformation coaches" to change the way local schools teach and operate.

"I think it's a long time coming. Halifax County schools probably needed this help a long time ago," said Phillip Rountree, principal at Northwest Halifax High School in Littleton.

"It just needs some redirection, and we're working for that redirection," said Bettie Archibald, principal at Inborden Elementary School in Enfield. "We're going to do whatever we need to do to get on board."

15 Comments

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  • mrsmom Jul 28, 2009

    State "Assistance Teams" have repeatedly been assigned to schools in Halifax county over the past 10 years. The gains made in the years the teams were assigned were obviously lost over time.

    What I want to know is what makes this district-wide assistance any different? Will the 1.8 million being spent now have to be repeated 5 years down the road when the schools go backwards again?

  • panthers254 Jul 28, 2009

    throw money at it. that usually solves everything. cough.

  • Kilroy Jul 28, 2009

    The plan would use about $1.8 million to hire 12 full-time education coaches and provide summer retraining courses for all 360 teachers and teaching assistants in the district. Teachers would be required to complete two weeks of training, principals three."
    How is the above going to address the problems superman, if the shoe fits, and wtlifr describe. Seems Manning is off target with the problem/solution also.

  • mrsmom Jul 28, 2009

    re: "How much did this cost us? "

    According to the April 29 story on WRAL,
    "The plan would use about $1.8 million to hire 12 full-time education coaches and provide summer retraining courses for all 360 teachers and teaching assistants in the district. Teachers would be required to complete two weeks of training, principals three."

  • If the shoe fits.... Jul 28, 2009

    Of all the comments, read "superman's" as he is exactly on target. I grew up in Halifax Co., once was a DSS social worker in Halifax Co., then I eventually taught school in that system. I know the facts from all the angles - first hand.

  • wtliftr Jul 28, 2009

    I live in the area, and YES, about 2/3 of the students have no father. I've seen some bad teachers in the area, but the majority of them are trying their best. Until the "parents" and the students start to care, it won't get much better.

  • panthers254 Jul 28, 2009

    halifax county school students have problems reading.

    i never saw that coming. thank you, captain obvious.

  • Kilroy Jul 28, 2009

    "The problem is what the teachers have to work with. Poor people, most of the kids probably live with their grandmother, their mother is a drug addict, no father and they live on welfare."

    So do you think 74% of the students are as you describe.....not so sure about that. Poor does not mean you are stupid and cannot learn. However, I understand that the broken homes and drug addict parent can have an affect, but not 74%. This cannot be blamed all on the socioeconomics of the area.

  • affirmativediversity Jul 28, 2009

    "More than 71 percent of the district's elementary school students aren't proficient in reading, and 74.3 percent of middle school students aren't proficient, according to state figures"

    =====================

    Maybe they could do away with the Diversity portion of the curriculum and add one or two more English, Math and Science classes.

    Oh here's another idea. When students have to complete a book report...make the read the book...not watch the movie!!

    Its all rocket science to some!

  • affirmativediversity Jul 28, 2009

    "The state Department of Public Instruction sent coaches to the school district to help administrators provide effective instructional leadership"

    =============

    How much did this cost us? WHY WASN'T THIS KIND OF NONSENSE CUT FROM THEIR BUDGET??????????

    Why do "principals" need "leadership coaching"...shouldn't the ability to "lead" have been one of the skills required when they were hired for their jobs?

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