UNION COUNTY — During this week’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees, board members rated superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall’s performance “satisfactory” for the past year, based on the fact that she had met the goals she had set for the district in 2012-2013. Woodall said she gives full credit to the teachers, students and administrators.
“I formulate the plans and time lines, but I’m totally dependent on them in order to bring (goals) to fruition,” Woodall said. “They are very dedicated and committed, and our students try very hard.”
Woodall’s goals for the district were divided into three categories, the first of which was Curriculum and Instruction. She said she would assist principals and the instructional staff in plans for continuous district improvement, and those goals were met in the following ways:
- Common Core standards in Grade 2 and higher were reviewed with instructional teams to prepare for the bridge year. Common Core were implemented in K-1.
- Clemson University visited for K-2 and 3-5 Common Core training.
- Model math lessons were developed for presentation to peers at the Jan. 4, 2013 in-service. Book studies for common core math implementation were conducted.
- Common Core leadership teams attended training sessions and shared information with colleagues.
- The focus on MAP data continued in grades K-8 to track student progress.
- The district-wide course of study developed in grammar was implemented.
- Shared planning in middle level courses was facilitated in order to discuss common core strategies.
- A plan for a middle and elementary GT summer camp was created, and a funding source was found.
- Honors offerings were adjusted at the middle and high school levels based on feedback of interest, test scores and rigor.
The next category was Use of Resources, in which Woodall said she would provide leadership in effectively managing resources. Those goals were met in the following ways:
- Assistance for preparation of 2013-2014 budget was provided.
- A forensic audit was conducted twice for payroll and purchasing.
- Finance procedures were reviewed with local vendors in order to cancel direct orders to career teachers. Standardization of purchasing procedures was re-emphasized in the career center.
- UCHS classroom computers were upgraded.
- The role of the placement coordinator at the career center was defined.
- Recruitment and scheduling for middle school prospects and high school completers at the career center were offered.
- Career center practices, procedures, and staffing models were reviewed. A study for restructuring of programs was conducted.
- Instruction strategies at the Achievement Academy were monitored during the transfer from traditional to virtual delivery.
- Employee travel was limited, and the focus remained on shared initiatives. Employees presented information gained at principal meetings and/or staff development sessions at school sites.
- District level administrators and principals were evaluated.
- Athletic program needs and staffing were discussed with the high school principal and athletic director.
- Race to the Top technology funding was sought through grant submission.
- Technology department staffing and work order progress was monitored.
- Construction work progress on athletic practice fields for baseball and softball was reviewed.
- Discussions on the possible uses of school and county facilities continued with community members.
The third category was Public Relations. Woodall said she would develop opportunities for community outreach and partnerships, and those goals were met in the following ways:
- OCR Title 9 requests for documentation and interviews were provided in a timely manner April-September 2013.
- The Wyatt’s Chapel Backpacks of Love program was implemented in the elementary schools.
- Guidance services and responsibilities were reviewed.
- Virtual course offerings and higher education partnerships in academic work such as dual credit were reviewed to offer choice and flexibility.
- OLWEUS bullying prevention program kick-offs were planned and implemented at BES and Sims.
- The organization of student field trips for career awareness and advisement was encouraged.
- A plan for WorkKeys testing for emerging workers in Union County was developed in partnership with USC Union and Spartanburg Community College as part of the WorkReady county initiative. The superintendent served on the leadership team.
- A plan for the smooth transition from K-5 to 6th grade at Sims was developed.
Woodall said board members were concerned about Union County High Schools grade of “F” on its federal report card, and she said she is taking steps to improve that. She explained, however, that the federal report card — which has only been in place for two years — is based on the growth of seven student sub-groups, such as ethnicity, gender, free and reduced lunch, and special needs students. The federal report card is not based on overall performance, but rather the growth of all seven of those student sub-groups.
“We did better than expected in some categories,” Woodall said. “We did have successes, but if all seven sub-groups don’t move, we still get a zero.”
Woodall used an analogy, comparing the scoring system to losing weight.
“If I’m trying to lose weight and my goal is to lose 15 pounds, I could meet my goal one year. Then, the next year, I could have held that 15 pounds down, but because I didn’t lose five more, I would get a zero.”
Woodall said the UCHS staff members understand the facets of that federal growth model, and they are working to improve data in all of those student sub-groups.
Schools will not receive their state report card, which is based on overall performance, until November. Those scores are based on end-of-course tests, on-time graduation rate, and how many students passed exit exams (their first time taking them and by graduation). Woodall said she already has the raw data, but not the final calculations. She said UCHS has scored average in the three previous years, and some adjustments have already been made to see better scores this year.
Woodall also pointed out that four teachers from the district level — Cindy Langley, Tabitha Talley, Eric Childers, and herself — are visiting schools to assist and support teachers on a monthly basis.
“We are trying a very hands-on approach to support teachers,” she said. “We look at the way we test students — written tests and the types of questions we ask — and communicating with students’ families. That’s what I focus on in the math department. It takes the teacher and the family to work with the student.”
Woodall assists in the math department; Langley assists in English; Childers in science; and Talley in social studies.
Woodall also discussed her goals for 2013-2014, which will involve the same three categories as last year. For instruction, she said the district will focus on an I-3 writing grant from Clemson, which is for middle and high school teachers who are learning to teach writing. Another focus will be STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), which will involve upper-level middle school science lessons and the formation of robotics teams.
In the Resources category, the focus will be on the UCHS Career and Technology Center. A needs assessment will be conducted, from recruitment to programs offered. Woodall said the district will expand the programs which are offered in the CATE Center.
In the Public Relations category, the district will focus on the 5K Healthy Snack Initiative, in which students’ snacks will come from local farmers markets, as well as outreach efforts to put out good news about the work of the teachers and students.