LUMBERTON — The Public Schools of Robeson County’s Board of Education reviewed last academic year’s test scores in a meeting Tuesday, but cautioned against reading too much into their decline while expressing hope they would climb upward.
According to Linda Emanuel, assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, the board expected scores to be lower as 2012-2013 year was the first year North Carolina schools implemented a new, more rigorous Common Core Curriculum standards.
“It does require a broader base of knowledge,” said Bobby Locklear, director of accountability for the system.
Educators are calling this year’s results a baseline for future comparisons.
According to Locklear, on average about 25 percent of students were proficient in the subjects tested during the 2012-2013 school year. The year before, about 65 percent were proficient, according to the school system’s website.
In both years, students in grades third through eighth were tested in reading and math, with fifth and eighth graders also taking science exams. High school students were tested in English 2 during the 2012-2013 school year. The previous year, English 1 test scores were measured, perhaps accounting for some change in scores. Both years, they were tested in Biology and Math 1.
Emanuel stressed that the most recent scores should not be compared with previous years, as they were measured against “totally different standards.” Locklear did not include prior scores in his presentation to the board.
“Each time that the state has changed standards we have taken a dip,” Emanuel said. “The whole nation has taken a dip with these new testing efforts. Everybody is positive and we’re going to weather this one too.”
The system’s Career and Technical Education Department, however, saw “good news,” according to Emanuel.
On Thursday, the department held a Career and Technical Education Expo at the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Events Center, where more than 80 organizations set up booths. According to Herman Locklear, the department’s director, 1,148 students attended the event, most of whom were juniors.
“We tried to bring students in to see what kind of careers are out there and get them in the mindset of what they’d like to do,” he said. Organizations present included everything from Highway Patrol and fire departments to banks and funeral homes.
Many students left with job applications and post-graduation employment prospects.
Students who participate in Career and Technical Education programs — like the Expo, welding classes and mechanic training — will get a chance to show off all they have learned on March 22 at the Battle of Careers.
“A lot of our students are not those that you’re going to see on the basketball court, baseball field or football field,” Herman Locklear said. “I feel they deserve the right for their parents to be able to see them in their element.”
According to Earney Hammonds, director of maintenance, the system’s many construction projects are on time and on budget.
The St. Pauls Middle School auditorium, which is being renovated, “was just about a monster,” he said. The facility still needs new seating and blinds and work will continue close to its deadline, he said.
Other projects include Piney Grove Elementary School, where a wheelchair ramp has been installed, Lumberton Junior High School’s auditorium and the Career Center’s parking lot.
The federal government allotted $1.3 million to Public Schools of Robeson County to help pay for the system’s phone service, Internet and websites, according to Shanita Wooten, assistant superintendent of Administration and Technology. Additionally, the system made about $44,000 profit by auctioning off surplus desks, computers and others items on Saturday. That money will go towards child nutrition and drivers education programs, she said.
The board also approved about 90 staff changes, according to Stephen Gaskins, assistant superintendent of Human Resources. The list included teachers of all grades, bus drivers, coaches and new hires, he said.
“Everyone who was moved wanted to move,” Gaskins said.
In other business:
— Piney Grove Elementary School’s Cindy Bryant was named Bus Driver of the Month.
— William Tommy Maxwell, who works in the system’s Technology Department, and Kathern White, a fourth-grade teacher at St. Pauls Elementary School, were named Employees of the Month.
— Kathryn H. McDaniel was named North Carolina School Nurse Administrator of the Year. She supervises the Public Schools of Robeson County School’s health program.