Corinth school system considers initiatives

By Jebb Johnston/The Daily Cornthian

CORINTH — Corinth schools Superintendent Lee Childress has suggested the system launch a district-wide literacy initiative and an early learning collaborative.

He also wants the district to consider the possibility of putting technology devices in the hands of students for use in coursework.

The school board this week passed a motion for planning to continue on the technology initiative. Childress wants to form advisory councils to help formulate how it will work.

Technology will be advantageous over printed materials for the upcoming full implementation of common core standards, Childress said, and all common core testing will be online within a few years.

“Everything is changing and it’s changing extremely fast,” said Childress. “What we are doing in schools you can argue is not the culture of the world today. If we went into the traditional high school classroom today, they’re not much different than what we all experienced.”

He said it would not be about simply giving each student a tablet or laptop computer but rather finding how the device can improve student achievement.

The district-wide literacy initiative would help prepare for the “Third Grade Gate” passed by the Legislature, which will require students to demonstrate reading on grade level in the third grade or be held back. The initiative is also a requirement of the district’s recent accreditation by AdvancED.

“What we are looking at doing is establishing some type of literacy initiative that basically will go from birth even through adult,” said Childress. “We know that a parent basically is the child’s first teacher.”

The goal is “to help those children to begin to be exposed to print in the home,” the superintendent said. “Children today don’t see books like all of us saw when we were growing up. Some people don’t have any type of print in the home.”

The initiative would include things such as keeping the school libraries open during the summer and working with parents both in the schools and in the community.

Childress said it is time to “shine the spotlight on literacy.”

“If you talk to our high school teachers or our middle school teachers, they’re going to tell you the issue that most children face is the difficulty they have in reading. Part of that is because they haven’t developed an appreciation nor have they developed strong reading skills when they were in the elementary school.

“And that’s why third grade becomes so important. Basically, you are learning to read up until the third grade, but when you get to the fourth grade, you are having to read to learn,” he said.

To meet the Third Grate Gate requirement, the district will look at early intervention programs to identify struggling readers in pre-K through second grade.

The early learning collaborative would be in anticipation of some state funding for pre-K initiatives becoming available and would involve the district partnering with a Head Start affiliate and possibly a private or parochial school that has a pre-K program or a licensed child care center with such a program.