Low Performing Schools Push To Do Better

Everyday, Nancy Johnson pushes her second graders to build their reading and language skills. That's why it's hard for her to understand why her school, Central Elementary, rated Level 2 in the state and did not meet any of the Federal "No Child Left Behind" standards.

"I think we work really hard at Central Elementary to get the children ready for the testing, so it was real disappointing".

But Johnson also sees the low rating as a challenge to work every harder.

"I'm trying to work with each individual child and where their needs are. We're doing a lot of writing and reading. We're working on trying to improve the test scores through challenging them. As soon as we found out we were a Level 2, we immediately started regrouping. We are doing nothing the same," Johnson said.

One of those changes includes purchasing new computer software to help teachers at Central Elementary, and all teachers in the Gulfport School District. The software will help the teachers develop tests to find out if the students are really learning what they're being taught. Those tests will help the students prepare for the real test in the Spring.

The district is also concentrating on intense training for teachers. Dianne Walker is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.

"This school will pair up with 28th St. Elementary to expand that training. They're looking at training children in the early reading skills like phonemic awareness that leads to phonics".

With the teachers' dedication and parental support, the school district is looking forward to higher scores and a better rating next year.

"I think we can bring it up. I do. At Central we are all working together," Johnson said.

Mark you calendar! Second through eighth graders will take the next Mississippi Curriculum Test the first week of May. High School students will take their tests after they finish each course.