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Kannapolis superintendent presents goals for schools

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Schools district is making strides, but officials said that doesn’t mean the work is over.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Morris presented the district’s accomplishments along with a list of goals during Monday’s school board meeting.
Implementing Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education is a top priority for the school system.
A.L. Brown High School opened a 50,000-square-foot STEM Academy this fall, offering students a chance to experience more hands-on learning opportunities.
The district is also looking for ways to expand STEM education to students in the lower grade levels.
Morris said Kannapolis Intermediate Principal Rob Knuschke is in the process of bringing a LEGO lab to the school as a STEM initiative.
Shady Brook Elementary has also implemented a STEM lab.
“They are really excited about the new lab,” Morris said. “They want to invite other schools to come use it too.”
The district is also focusing on ways to improve student achievement.
Morris said Kannapolis Middle School had the best year, meeting 28 of 29 Adequate Yearly Progress target goals.
Adequate Yearly Progress is the reading and mathematics accountability standard required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Kannapolis Middle narrowed the achievement gap between white and Hispanic students by nearly 19 percent in two years, but Morris said the school still needs to decrease the achievement gap for black students.
“That is a tremendous reduction,” Morris.
The school is also putting emphasis on increasing achievement levels for students with disabilities.
“That is always a big issue that we are working on,” Morris said.
Although Forest Park Elementary met 19 of 21 AYP target goals, Morris said the school will be focusing on the decrease in fourth-grade reading scores and improving student performance in third-grade math.
Jackson Park Elementary will work toward improving third-grade reading and math scores.
The school is currently looking for ways to address socio-economic issues like hunger and homelessness that could be affecting performance.
Fred L. Wilson will work to boost its reading scores and keep students in school through its new Top 10 Freddie File.
“We’ve been doing this at the high school. I think it’s a great idea to implement at the elementary school,” Morris said. “We’ve been working to pick out the 10 most at-risk kids who probably need more help and pairing them with teachers at the intermediate school.”
Kannapolis Intermediate is hoping to increase student performance by decreasing class size in fifth-grade classrooms. Morris said Knuschke has asked for permission to hire new teachers and tutors.
A.L. Brown’s graduation rate climbed to 85 percent last year, but Morris said the school needs to work on getting students better prepared to take the SAT and ACT standardized tests.
Principal Kevin Garay has told the Post part of the preparation is helping students decide which test is more appropriate for them to take.
Staff training in core subjects and technology is also a key component of the district’s future plans.
“Staff development has been really heavy this year because we want to make sure these teachers are prepared,” Morris said.


Coming up
The following are goals outlined by each school:
• A.L. Brown High School — Plans to improve its website and develop a sustainability plan for technology; implement course offerings in global studies, food and culinary arts
• Forest Park Elementary — Improve student performance in third-grade math; address decrease in fourth-grade reading scores
• Fred L. Wilson — Increase reading achievement of all students; offer a family night focused on healthy living ; work toward student tradition with Top 10 Freddie File
• Jackson Park Elementary — Work toward improving third-grade reading and math scores; continue to address achievement gaps due to socio-economics
• Kannapolis Intermediate — Decrease class size in fifth grade; restructure school-wide literacy initiatives to determine the most effective strategies
• Kannapolis Middle — Decrease achievement gap for black students; increase achievement levels for students with disabilities; use student data to drive instruction
• Shady Brook Elementary — Use intervention blocks for academic deficits to foster an environment of independent learners; build support and capacity through volunteers and partnerships
• Woodrow Wilson Elementary — Introduce and reinforce STEM themes; work to increase fourth-grade achievement scores
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: twitter.com/posteducation
Facebook: facebook.com/ Sarah.SalisburyPost

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