Remediation nets considerable gains

Published 1:34 pm Saturday, July 4, 2009

WINDSOR – The news was good for Bertie County Board of Education members here Tuesday night.

During a called session of the board, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chip Zullinger gave a brief report on testing scores from grades three through eight in the county, specifically highlighting the work of the remediation program held at Windsor Elementary School and Bertie Middle School.

“We did some things differently this year,” the superintendent said. “We taught children right up until the next to the last day of school. We worked them pretty hard right up until the last day.”

After the regular school days, however, the district embarked on an eight-day remediation effort that was focused on the areas of deficiency for each child. The program, however, was specifically geared to reading and math.

“By-in-large we were able to provide a ClassScape Assessment for each child,” Dr. Zullinger said. “It showed where they were and gave teachers an opportunity to work in the specific areas in which they needed to be remediated.”

The superintendent began by focusing on the difference in passing rates after remediation for the past two years. Because the state withheld reading results last year, Dr. Zullinger said he focused on the difference in math.

According to the data he gave, the third grade math remediation pass rate increased by nearly 20 percent with this year’s remediation practice. In fifth grade, the rate went from just over five percent to nearly 25 percent and in grade eight it went from slightly above 10 percent to over 35 percent.

Dr. Zullinger said the instruction in 2009 was much more focused and he believed that was a reason for the change in results. He also said the district’s focus on having its best teachers provide remediation was important.

“I personally have a strong belief in merit and incentive,” he said. “In all my time as a superintendent, this is one of the best efforts from the teachers I have ever seen.”

The superintendent explained that Bertie County Schools advertised for teachers and hired what they considered the best applicants. He indicated 75 percent of them came from the current staff while 25 percent were retired teachers or educators from another district.

The teachers earned $250 for each student they were able to move from Level II to Level III on the End of Grade Test.

He then revealed the success rate of the teachers who participated, starting with an elementary teacher who moved 62 percent of her students after eight days of remediation.

“Was the teacher one of ours,” board member Alton H. Parker asked.

“She was a Windsor Elementary School teacher,” Dr. Zullinger replied. “The teacher at the middle school level was also one of ours.”

That teacher moved 50 percent of her students from Level II to Level III.

Overall, Dr. Zullinger reported that 261 of 363 students who attended remediation moved from Level II to Level III.

That allowed testing data within the county to increase tremendously.

Graphs indicate that in third grade reading, those proficient went from under 30 percent to just over 50 percent while in third grade math the numbers moved from just over 30 to more than 60 percent proficient.

“We had what we view to be considerable gains at every level,” Dr. Zullinger said. “It’s certainly the strongest since I’ve been superintendent. Even without remediation, there would have been an increase.”

At the fourth grade level, there was also an increase. In reading the percentage proficient increased from just over 35 to more than 40 while in math it went from approximately 45 percent to 60 percent.

Strong gains were also recorded in fifth grade reading (approximately 35 to 44), fifth grade math (approximately 42 to 68), sixth grade reading (approximately 33 to 44), sixth grade math (approximately 44 to more than 60), seventh grade reading (under 25 percent to more than 45 percent), seventh grade math (approximately 57 to 69), eighth grade reading (approximately 33 to 48) and eight grade math (approximately 51 to 74).

Despite the positive gains, board members indicated they wanted to see testing scores get even better in the future.

Dr. Zullinger also thanked the students and their parents for their attendance at remediation, saying it the results would not have been possible without their commitment.