Summer Institute

TUPELO – The Lee County School District has begun using its principals and teachers to respond to the recommendations of its recent curriculum audit.
During the county’s summer institute June 22-23, certified teachers and administrators spent much of their time working in groups to analyze their curriculum.
The audit, whose results were made public June 7, emphasized ways that the district could better align the skills it is teaching with those that are being evaluated by the state test.
It also detailed other ways Lee County Schools could improve, such as writing more specific policies and developing detailed job descriptions.
As the district begins efforts to follow those recommendations, about 550 certified staff members met at five schools throughout the county.
“The best way to get a good idea is to get a bunch of ideas,” Guntown Principal Steven Havens said. “We have some very bright people in the Lee County School District, and we try to get them all in one place and utilize the skills they have. We’ve had a lot of success to make the process easier and to help our kids in the long run.”
First- to fifth-grade teachers met in grade-level groups. They looked at the written curriculum and at what was being analyzed by the state test.
They developed or updated guides to pace what they are teaching and thorough tests that assess which students have grasped the skills that the state demands they learn.
They also made sure the difficulty of the questions on their assessments matched the depth of knowledge on the state tests.
“The teachers know what works and what doesn’t because they are in there working with it every day,” Lee County Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Lisa Franks said.
Middle school language arts teachers learned from members of the Mississippi Writing and Thinking Institute about integrating appropriate writing and reading comprehension in their classroom. Stephanie Rebman 7/1/10 sentence doesn’t make sense
Middle school math teachers revised pacing guides and assessments, while social studies teachers discussed ways to integrate reading.
Sixth- to eighth-grade science teachers received training in the new portable science labs bought with stimulus funds and met with textbook representative Stephanie Rebman 7/1/10 a rep or reps? about new science books purchased by the district.
“The curriculum audit really drove what we did,” said Middle School Curriculum Coordinator Kathy Mask. “Curriculum development is an ongoing process. You’re never finished. You are constantly realigning, developing and looking at data.”
High school teachers were grouped in subject areas. For example, English 1 and 2 teachers worked together, as did English 3 and 4. They also looked at ways to improve their curriculum and to develop better assessments.
At the district’s request, the curriculum audit contained much detail about how the district could improve its scores on the English 2 state test, and English 1 and 2 teachers worked together to look at ways to implement those suggestions.
“We’re using our in-house experts,” said Debbie Pickens, high school curriculum coordinator.
Meanwhile, faculty from ICC presented a general session to teachers of juniors and seniors about things they can stress to students to make them more ready for college.
Counselors also met in a group to discuss specific skills, as did gifted teachers. PE teachers and nurses met together and received special safety and prevention training.
This was the third consecutive year Lee County held its summer institute for certified staff, but it was the first time that everyone met on the same day with a focus on improving curriculum and assessments. Last year, educators were split into one of two different sessions.
“It is more meaningful for them because they are going to use this curriculum,” said Casey Dye, Lee County director of student assessment. “They were the ones who developed this instead of bringing someone in from the outside.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal