BOE address PHS freshmen success rates in math

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Board of Education was queried on freshmen success rate in math, at its meeting Monday.

David Roth asked what percentage of freshmen at the county’s only high school, Preston High, fail their first math classes?

County Superintendent Steve Wotring said he did not have exact numbers on hand for the ninth grade from 2017-‘18, but he believed the failure rate for math is about 28 percent.

Wotring said the central office staff is working on enrollment and failure numbers by class. Assistant Superintendent Brad Martin said figures can also be pulled on failure rates for students who came to PHS from each middle school.

The Dominion Post has requested copies of the information, when it is available.

Roth also asked what initiatives are being taken at PHS to address the failure?

Wotring said in-school tutoring, after-school tutoring and school improvement specialists in math classes are all being used.

A transition counselor was hired this year “to work specifically with ninth grade coming in, because typically the failure rate for ninth grade is higher than for other grades.” Freshmen camp is also held to bring students to PHS and get familiar with it.

Martin said K-8 schools have started giving double blocks of math, for 90 minutes of instruction daily. Assistant Superintendent Ange Varner said remedial math and English are also offered at PHS.

Roth asked how eighth graders are prepared for high school? Are they put in classes with students from the same middle school?

Wotring said not.

Roth noted there is a “social issue” in freshmen being separated from their peer groups at this critical time in their lives.

“That’s something we can pass along,” to the transition counselor and to high school officials to draw up schedules, Wotring said.

The meeting was the final one for Board President Crissy Estep, who chose not to seek re-election after one term on the board. Wotring said Estep had been “a model of what we want a board president to be.”

Estep said she leaves the board in good hands. Returning incumbents Robert “Mac” McCrum and Jack Keim, and newcomer Jeff Zigray, will be sworn in at 8 a.m. Monday at the BOE office.

Also at the meeting:

The board accepted a $5,568 scoreboard for the Bruceton gym as an in-kind contribution from the youth league in return for use of the facility.

Four retiring employees were honored with plaques and a cake. Betty Carr was an elementary and special ed teacher for 21 years. Ray Durham was a science teacher. Curtis Cline worked 37 years in maintenance and as a bus driver. Patricia Miranob was a long-time teacher at Kingwood Elementary.

The board accepted the resignation of West Preston Principal Leah Moss. Moss is returning to Upshur County Schools, where she worked previously.

Approval was given to move the After School Explorers summer program from Bruceton School to Hopewell United Methodist Church because roof work is being done at the school.

During the public comment period, Melissa Bolyard praised the Preston High FFA program, saying her daughter benefited from it. Charles Sisler said he doesn’t think young women are receiving enough encouragement to enter agriculture.

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