School board recognizes teachers for classroom growth

Published 9:09 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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By Andrea Burroughs

 The Demopolis Board of Education recognized three teachers whose classes had the highest growth during the first semester.

The classes of Molly Malone, Paige Gandy, and Amanda Powell showed more growth than any other class in their grade levels. Superintendent Tony Willis described them as “humble teachers” and said it is “no coincidence because they are all good teachers.”

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Willis said every year the school system does a baseline test to begin the year. Then, at the midway point of the year, another diagnostic test is given that allows teachers to see what kind of growth their students have had midway through the year.

“[Testing] helps us to make decisions on who is on track and who needs some extra help in the second semester. We typically do it as a way to see where we need to strategically work with our kids,” said Willis. “But always out of that we see some highlights of classrooms that are really excelling. Their students are growing more than the average classroom.”

Willis said that once students get to fourth grade and above, it is harder to determine a specific teacher who has had growth in their students as students have more than one teacher by that point. But in first, second, and third grade, classrooms are self-contained with one teacher.

“In first, second, and third grade, we had a teacher whose students were growing significantly more. Our averages were very strong and we were ahead of last year’s pace,” said Willis. “But these were the leaders in their grade level. Their students showed more growth in the first semester than anyone else in their grade level.”

Malone and Gandy are teachers at Westside Elementary School, and Powell is a teacher at U.S. Jones Elementary.