‘Scorecard’ shows city schools’ successes

Posted: November 13, 2012

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — City School Board officials Monday presented their 2011-2017 scorecard, which showed progress toward some of the division’s goals along with areas that still need to get better.

The scorecard is part of the strategic plan in which the division sets goals for improvement in student success, learning environment and the teacher workforce. It also shows how Winchester Public Schools is progressing.

In terms of success, more students are taking one or more Advanced Placement courses — from 268 in 2010-11 to 303 in 2011-12. The percentage of students earning a 3 or higher — the tests are graded from 1 to 5 — also improved, from 58 percent to 61 percent.

The percentage of students with no suspensions or expulsions also remained high: 99 percent at the elementary level, 93.3 percent for middle school and 94 percent at the high school level.

In terms of workforce success, the division met its temporary targets — in school diversity, by attaining 6 percent minority personnel, and in the percentage of personnel with advanced degrees at 68 percent, up from 63 percent in 2010-11.

The number of teacher absences also decreased from 3,991 in 2010-11 to 3,843 last year. However, the division failed to meet its goal of 3,200 or fewer absences.

The division also saved $691,865 through an energy-saving program — exceeding its target of $288,000.

The division did not improve in other areas, such as code of conduct violations, which jumped from 291 in 2010-11 to 352 in 2011-12, and the number of referrals from bus incidents, which increased from 275 to 314.

Teacher turnover also increased, from 8.5 percent in 2010-11 to 9.6 percent in 2011-12.

Math Standards of Learning test results also declined across the board.

Frank Sublett, who has three children in the school division, spoke briefly about the potential extension of the school calendar that is currently being discussed among school leaders, parents and staff.

The proposed calendar would still consist of 185 school days, which includes five built-in snow days, but classes would start a week earlier and end a week later and holidays and spring break would be longer.

One of the reasons for the proposed changes is to shorten the summer vacation.

Sublett said that although it would be nice to have a lot of three-day weekends, “it’s quite a hardship on the majority of students’ families to find child care.”

Chairman John Bishop advised everyone to “stay tuned” as school officials receive feedback.

Depending on public sentiment, the board will hold a first reading of the motion in January.

Mary Tedrow, who chairs the English department at Handley High School, earned the 2012 Shenandoah University School of Education and Human Development Inspiring Teacher Award.

Tedrow has been an English teacher since 1978. She has taught grades nine through 12, ranging from special education to advanced placement students.

She won the Frederick County Teacher of the Year award in 2001 before arriving in the city school division and has worked with the Teacher Leaders Network of the Center for Teaching Quality and has served as a commissioner on the National Education Association Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, 2010-2011.

“I just love this community,” Tedrow said.

Handley High School chemistry teacher Kathy Clark was recognized for earning the 2011 James Madison University Teacher of the Year award.

To be considered, a high school teacher must show a longstanding record of teaching excellence and have the support of his or her former students.

Clark told the board that she didn’t think there was anything better than “knowing what you’re doing is actually making a difference.”

Present at the meeting were Chairman John Bishop, Vice-Chairman Melvin Thomas, Cynthia Ford, Mary Margaret Wise, Erica Truban, Vince DiBenedetto, Richard Bell and Allyson Pate. Sharion Poston was not present.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com