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Marengo County Board of Education discusses Summer Learning Program, assessment reviews

During the most recent Marengo County Board of Education meeting on Feb.  24, 2021, the board discussed plans for summer school for failing students. Instructional Leader Cathy Seale and Technology Coordinator Kate Huggins also provided the board with updates from the Marengo County school system.

The Summer Learning Program is in the planning stages for offering summer learning for grades K-8 at each school. However, there are no concrete plans as of yet. A more detailed report will be presented at the next meeting.

Current plans are to hold summer classes from June 7- July 2 from 8 a.m. to noon. The school system is planning for intensive, specific instruction to fill the gaps that students have, especially in the areas of reading and math. K-3 students will focus primarily on reading. Students in 9th-12th grade will still have grade recovery.

The school system is also planning to offer transportation to and from school. Work is also being done on getting a bus driver, CNP, and parent surveys out to determine interest.

Huggins reported that the Chromebooks the school system bought this past summer. She said that the Chromebooks are holding up well and that there have been no reported issues from the students. Portable hotspots are still available for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, and Huggins said there were no complaints about the hotspots.

A safety portal that has added a tip line that allows anyone to report things such as bullying or fights on campus. Students or teachers can use a scan code or click a link on a school’s website and report the situation. Tips can be submitted anonymously or with the person’s name. When a tip is submitted, Seale, Huggins, and administrators at the school get an email alerting them to a potential problem.

Seale reported that the Math Textbook caravan was postponed until the March meeting due to the weather. The state of Alabama adopts textbooks on the recommendation of the state textbook committee. Local boards of education must adopt textbooks from the state list unless they receive approval for a local contract from the state superintendent.

Seale also presented mid-year reviews for the school system. School teams are now reviewing and making adjustments to the reviews. The District team will review, conduct the needs assessment, and make plans for support based on the schools’ findings and feedback.

While there are students who are considered “at-risk,” there has been an improvement in reading and math assessments.

“We were blown away. We had so many strengths in our schools, even in this crazy year that we’re all in,” said Seale. “We saw teachers teaching their hearts out to the traditional and virtual students. We got to hear teachers, students, and parents talking about the great things that have happened as well as the challenges. But it was overwhelmingly improved from what we saw last year.”

All seniors are participating in the Ready to Work: Certified Alabama Worker program, though some teachers are having difficulties getting students to complete the work. Alabama’s Ready to Work program provides a career pathway for adults with limited education and employment experience at 66 sites by 22 institutions. Ready to Work’s workplace environment provides trainees the entry-level skills required for employment with most businesses and industries in Alabama. All schools have completed at least one out of the six modules in the program.

“We are striving to have 100 percent of our seniors receive the Alabama Certified Worker issued by the AIDT and the National Career Readiness Certificate issued by the ACT for completion of at least a bronze-level on the WorkKeys assessment,” said Seale.

The next Marengo County Board of Education meeting is Wednesday, March 24 at 4 p.m.