GSCSS officials implement assistance for students in wake of KRMS grade changing

Griffin-Spalding County School System (GSCSS) administrators say steps have been taken to both notify parents of Kennedy Road Middle School students whose grades are believed to have been changed during the tenure of Dr. Brenda Ford, the school’s former principal, as well as to put measures in place to offer those students additional assistance.

Superintendent Curtis Jones said officials would contact parents after administrator assessed the data necessary to correlate the suspected changed grades with CRCT results, which he said would give educators a clearer idea of which students may have been adversely affected.

Shelia Mincey, GSCSS Director of Special Education, Data and Assessment and Program Evaluation, who served as interim principal upon Ford’s retirement, said upon completion of that analysis, letters were written to parents whose children were identified as having potentially had grades changed and subsequently scored within 10 points of failing the CRCT. A total of 32 meetings then conducted at KRMS.

“The meetings took place beginning the second week of school,” Mincey said. “I didn’t want the school year to get going and for me not to have done what I was suppose to do. They (the parents) were very receptive and glad someone was working on this,” she said, adding that she did not have any parents call and complain about the grade changing at KRMS. “Most of them had heard about it, but didn’t know all the facts. They may have had some concerns, but they didn’t share them with me. I told them what I know about it and what we’re going to be doing for these students, and they were very receptive.”

Mincey said the parents who were notified included those having students at KRMS who scored 810 or lower on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

“The cutoff on the CRCT is 800, but we wanted to extend it to 810 to make sure those students had the help they needed to meet the requirements,” Mincey said. “We included these students because they could have guessed and bubbled in the correct answer, but didn’t know it. We wanted to reach out to them, also, to make sure they had any help they may need to meet the requirements.”

She said moving forward, a multi-prong approach will be taken to assist the students in question.

“I was very prescriptive in sitting down and trying to figure out what these children need and how to help them,” Mincey said.

“I explained they would get a double dose of math instruction. We have a regular math class, but we also have a math focus class and that’s the extra help they’ll get,” she said. “Secondly, we also have a program called ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces). It provides them a visual of what they need to work on.”

She went on to explain that the ALEKS program provides students a visual of what they need to work on by providing examples of problems. The GSCSS has purchased licenses for ALEKS that remain with the assigned students for the licensing period, which ends in 2013.

“ALEKS can also be used during math focus class, as well as at home,” Mincey said. “It’s available 24/7, so the students’ parents can use it with their children.”

In addition to these steps being undertaken at KRMS, the math coach will also be involved to oversee the students ongoing needs.

“The math coach will also sit down with the math teachers and let them know what specific help the students need,” Mincey said.

In addition to the 32 current KRMS students, two others transferred to other Spalding County middle schools and ten were promoted to the high schools.

“I also sat down with the assistant principal of the high schools and gave them the same letter,” Mincey said, adding that these students will also receive assistance at their relative schools.

Asked why the primary focus is being placed on the subject of math, Mincey said, “The area I was supposed to look at was math and that’s all I did. I wanted to make sure they had the math support they needed. I just concentrated in the area of math.”

However, she said that does not mean only math grades were changed at KRMS, nor that the affected students will not receive assistance in other subject areas.

“When the coach meets with the students, she’s not going to look only at math. She’s going to look at everything to see what else they may need,” Mincey said.

She said students may receive additional help in the form of individual group time, where children with similar learning needs may be grouped together for additional help. Flexible grouping and additional tutoring are other methods the students’ needs will be addressed, with data meetings conducted involving teachers and coaches, who will determine any other possible assistance that may be provided.

“We don’t dictate that,” Mincey said. “We let those decisions be made in the individual schools.” Ω

Editor’s note – The Grip will continue to follow developments in the KRMS grade changing incident, and will report the Professional Standards Commission findings as related to the complaint filed against Dr. Brenda Ford, the former principal, when the investigation has been completed.

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