Smaller classes on tap for second, third grade

TUPELO – When school leaders talk about the benefits of reorganizing Tupelo’s elementary schools, the opportunity to shrink class sizes for second- and third-graders is one of the first things they talk about.
“It makes all the difference in the world what a teacher is able to accomplish with 10 less children,” said Brenda Robinson, who will be the principal at Carver Elementary.
With 15 children in the room, teachers can spend more time on individualized instruction, letting them challenge the high achievers and help those who struggle, she said.
The district reduced class sizes in kindergarten and first grade in 2000, said Superintendent Randy McCoy.
“For the first several years, our test scores were improving,” McCoy said, although they since have plateaued with students falling in the 60th and 70th percentiles on nationally normed tests.
McCoy said he would expect the smaller class sizes in second and third grade to result in improved test scores in the long term.
Second and third grades are critical times for setting students on a steady foundation.
“When they leave third grade and enter fourth grade, they move from learning to read to reading to learn,” McCoy said.
Newly constructed classrooms add the necessary space. The district will now have to hire more teachers.
Three were hired last year. Later this year, the Board of Trustees will have to vote on hiring additional teachers to meet the 15-1 goal.
“Our current projections are 11. We had planned for as many as 14” new teachers, McCoy said.

‘Meet Your New Principal’

6-7 p.m. Monday
– Kindergarten – second grade: Carver, Church, Joyner, Parkway, Thomas

6-7 p.m. Tuesday
– Third to fifth grade: Lawhon, Rankin, Pierce and Lawndale

6-7 p.m. Thursday
– Sixth grade: Milam

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal