Hard work pays: RSS celebrates positive test scores

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 2, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Board reactions to Rowan-Salisbury’s positive test results varied from determination to tears Thursday afternoon.

Board member Jean Kennedy, a former teacher, said she cried when she first opened the document and saw how far the district has come in a year.

“Those teachers have worked some long hours, and I know there’s been some frustration, but it’s paid off,” she said.

Test scores released by the state Thursday morning showed upward growth for the district, serving almost as a reset back to 2013-14 scores. It means the Rowan-Salisbury School System can shed the “low-performing” label it was tagged with last year — and Board Chair Josh Wagner said it may be the first time in a long time the system can make that claim.

Wagner said he was told by the Department of Public Education that, had the school performance grade assessment measure been implemented earlier, Rowan-Salisbury Schools would have logged as a low-performing district for the past seven years.

“So that means we’re not for the first time in seven years,” he said.

And for the school system and the board, that was cause to celebrate. After a called meeting at 4 p.m., more than 200 staff, parents, students, administrators and teachers gathered in the board room at the Wallace Educational Forum to cheer the results.

Wagner said he hoped staff recognized, and celebrated, their part in the news.

“They’ve done the work and I hope they see the progress and take some ownership in this,” Wagner said.

“No matter how important you think you are not, you are very important to the life of a child,” Kennedy said, addressing teachers during the called meeting.

Board member Travis Allen said he was pleased with the results, and he — and other board members — credited teachers with the positive swing. As a board member, Allen said, he thought that, “sometimes you just have to get out of the way,” and let teachers teach.

Several board members also encouraged increased parental and community involvement in schools.

And while there was progress, the board acknowledged that there was a long way to go. Kennedy said she hoped the scores would be a launching point for future success. The scores show forward motion, but the district is still far from where many want it to be.

“We can’t stop now, we’re not at the top of the hill yet,” Kennedy said.

“To me success is your ultimate goal — we’re nowhere near that,” Wagner said. “What we have is progress. You don’t reach success without progress.”

But Thursday night, the system took a break and celebrated with cheers, spirit chants, and performances by the Jesse Carson drum line band, the West Rowan High School drum line and the East Rowan marching band.

“Tomorrow, we go back to work.” Kennedy said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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