HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Public School District is hiring an education consulting company and working with the Mississippi Department of Education to improve the district's academic performance.
Thames Elementary is an MDE Focus School for the 2016-2017 school year.
"Additional coaching/modeling is needed to help close the achievement gap," Interim Superintendent Robert Williams said in an email to the HPSD school board. "MDE Office of School Improvement provides federal funding for Thames to help in this area."
On top of the coaching, Thames receives as a focus school, the Hattiesburg Public School Board of Trustees approved a contract with Bailey Education Group at its Aug. 2 meeting to work with the elementary school and the district as a whole.
"Our team will be working with the teachers and academic coaches in the HPSD to improve academic performance through training, co-teaching, and modeling," said Cellie Scoggin, director of education services for Bailey Education Group.
The new contract is the district's second with Bailey Education Group in the last six months, and is an extension of a program the school board originally approved in February to "provide consulting services and support for selected teachers on differentiated instruction using the curriculum and NWEA's Learning Continuum to better meet individualized student needs."
"These services were provided from February to April and those targeted students were progress monitored at the end of April," Williams said. "Based on the data, we are recommending that Bailey Education Group provide this same but extended support to additional administrators, instructional coaches, specialists and teachers during the 2016-2017 school year."
Scoggin said Bailey's plan focuses on six areas for improvement over the course of its four-month contract with the district:
- Utilizing data from NWEA—measures of academic progress and Mississippi Assessment Program—Questar 2015-2016: Focusing on analyzing, interpreting and utilizing Instructional and Student Data
- Lesson planning and instructional delivery: Focusing on differentiated instruction utilizing NWEA—measures of academic progress learning continuum
- Knowledge and training on the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards and preparation for Mississippi Assessment Program—Questar
- Utilizing formative and summative assessment to plan and prepare for instruction
- Planning and preparing for effective student engagement and motivation strategies
- Planning and preparing for higher order questioning and problem solving strategies
Bailey will work for a total of 48 days from August through December. Williams said Bailey's staff will work with academic coaches and specialists for eight days. Staff will spend 40 days, one day per month at each of the district's eight schools, doing "on-site follow-up with academic coaches to determine teacher effectiveness" to incorporate the same kind of instruction and planning used earlier this year into classrooms moving forward.
"The professional development will be focused in the following areas: student group and differentiated instruction using curriculum documents and NWEA's Learning Continuum; guided reading and targeted text for Language Arts and conceptual understanding for Math; student engagement and motivation; higher order questions; and professional learning communities," Williams said.
In addition to services it is providing to the entire district, Bailey will also focus 12 days specifically to coaching at Thames.
"This will ensure that the Thames teachers are well trained in meeting individual student needs and in return could decrease the achievement gap between the highest and lowest performing students at Thames," Williams said. "By doing such, we would then no longer be deemed a Focus School by MDE Office of School Improvement, which would show great academic progress."
According to its contract, Bailey will also dedicate fee-waived resources, like a collection of research based strategies, templates and materials aligned to the Mississippi Teacher and Principal Performance Standards and the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards in English Language Arts and mathematics.
The total cost for both the 48-day contract with the district and the 12-day contract with Thames is $87,000. Williams said Federal Title II funds will cover $69,600 of the cost, and the remaining $17,400 will be covered by federal focus school funds.