Socorro High School improving slowly

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At the April 16 meeting of the Socorro District School Board, Socorro High School Principal Craig De Young was guardedly optimistic.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work. My staff has really worked incredibly hard. We know there is a lot more to do. Our students are not where they need to be yet, but the progress they’ve made this year is important,” De Young said.

Referring to the fall and winter Standard Based Assessment (SBA) and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) scores, De Young said freshmen, sophomores and juniors have all begun to make progress in the key areas of reading and math.

“Improvement in these areas is going to be critical,” he said. “Especially with Common Core Standards, our goal is to be aligned with those standards by the end of 2013. We realize the amount of effort and focus that requires and we’re ready to take that on.”

That stance is a challenging one given that De Young also reported that while nascent growth is in fact occurring, the data also indicates that 50 percent of those same freshmen, sophomores and juniors are reading at or below the eighth grade level.

“Things are not where we need to be,” said De Young, “But given where we were, we are very proud of the recent, B grade assigned to us by the PED. And the largest patterns of growth are seen by students below level. We are closing the gap between lowest and highest functioning students.”

In order to better equip teachers with targeted and student-specific approaches, there is a dedicated data room exclusively for teachers to review every student’s individual scores. This allows them to specifically key in on what’s needed and accordingly amend instructional strategies.

The principal also reported on the formation and the effectiveness of PLC’s collaborative groups that allow teams of teachers of various disciplines to meet in order to more comprehensively meet student’s learning needs. They also specifically address the following areas:

  • examining each course/level’s content and determine common pacing and effective instructional strategies;
  • creating common assessments and standardized criteria for interpreting data;
  • monitoring student learning and flex instructional approach;
  • develop approaches that are result-focused.

De Young made a case to the board that strengthening advanced placement classes can be a significant means for indirectly raising competency levels school-wide. There were 60 student enrolled in advanced placement classes this year, over 40 from last year.

Although those students may not be counted in the state statistics, De Young said there are other things that can be done with staff that can help meet Common Core standards.

“We need to have more teachers trained in this. Even if they don’t end up teaching those specific classes, they bring that approach with them, creating a richer and more rigorous curriculum,” he said.

Attendance levels stable at high school

Attendance levels at the high school remain stable, De Young said, with incremental growth seen this academic year.

“This was due, in part, to moving intervention for freshman to the fifth period,” he said.

De Young also described the school’s freshman academy — in which students form a single cohort, attending classes in one hall — as “very successful after some initial resistance.”

Discipline issues at the school are also being addressed. There were a reported 325 referrals to the administration for behavioral incidents, and a total of 20 fights.

Vice-Principal Manuel Molina was given several accolades by De Young.

“He does a tremendous job with our kids, continually reinforcing standards of conduct,” De Young said.

Socorro School Board President Ann Shiells asked about the success using resource offers drawn from local law enforcement in the schools.

Molina supported ongoing budgetary allocations for the program, which is currently paying two county police officers for two days at four hours per day.

“We do, however, need better communication between the school and those officers involved. There’s somewhat of a disconnect and we need to be on the same page,” said Molina.

In other business, the board approved the 2012-13 school schedule, which is now listed on the SDSB website.

 


-- Email the author at lalvarado@dchieftain.com.