At the rescheduled Liberty County Board of Education meeting Sept. 25, the board received updates on district programs such as REESLA, MAP, and REACH.
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Susan Avant presented the REESLA (Retired Educators Support Student Learning and Achievement) update. According to Avant, in 2017-2018, 431 students were served through the program.
“This is where we bring our retired teachers back who still have so much to give to our students,” Avant said. “They work with our students one on one or small groups to pinpoint and close those very specific learning gaps.”
There are 23 retired educators in the applicant pool, she said, and all schools budgeted for the program. Because the program works best after identifying the areas of need for each individual student through a screener process, the start dates tend to vary.
“The program is funded through either Title I or charter funds,” Avant said.
MAP is now the universal screener used by Liberty County School System. It replaced the STAR reading and math assessments previously used in grades 1-9, Avant continued.
“It’s given periodically through the year to measure that reading and math and to look for those areas where we really need to identify those students for intervention, and to help pinpoint any skill gaps they may have,” she added.
MAP shows growth over time, but is broken down into domains. MAP gives teachers reliable data that helps to drive decisions concerning improvement, Avant said.
“This is the first time we’ve administered MAP,” Avant said. “It provides a both a Lexile and Rasch Unit (RIT) score that are aligned to domains in ELA and math.” The Lexile band determines levels of learning for students, she said. There is a significant disparity between the Lexile grades 1-7 currently tested at compared to the state determined Lexile band required, Avant said.
Grades 8 and 9 are slightly above the minimum required Lexile band, but there is room for improvement, Avant added.
“There are other screeners in place for Kindergarten,” she said. “MAP is grades 1-9, and it helps identify disparities and learning deficiencies to provide early intervention.”
The RIT score is used by teachers to: pinpoint a student’s missing skills; choose instructional resources; track longitudinal growth; inform lesson planning and set growth goals.
Chief Academic Officer Dr. Patti Crane provided the REACH update. REACH is Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen Georgia Scholarship Program.
“We’ve been very fortunate in Liberty County since this has become available to us,” Crane said.
According to Crane, scholars are chosen in 8th grade. Those students must sign a contract to maintain a 2.5 grade point average throughout high school and remain crime, drug and behavior-issue free, Crane said.
“The scholarship amount is up to $10,000, or $2,500 a year for four years,” she said. “Students can attend colleges in the University System of Georgia, Technical College System of Georgia, or an eligible, private postsecondary institution.”
In total, there are 12 REACH scholars, she continued. There are nine REACH scholars in 9th-11th grade, and three newly named REACH scholars in 8th grade, Crane continued. Those scholars are Manav Patel from Lewis Frasier Middle School, and Makailah Wilson and DaeShaun Gibbs from Snelson Golden Middle School.
LCSS receives money from the state for the program, but a lot of the funds come from community donations, and those are vital to determine how many students we can fund in a year, Crane said.
“There are donation boxes at Panera Bread for this year’s REACH fund,” Crane said. “Starting next month, we will begin fundraising for next year, in order to name more REACH scholars.”
The REACH signing day will be from 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center.
“This is an excellent program, the more money we raise, the more the state contributes, which allows us to name more REACH scholars,” Crane explained. “We can name up to five REACH scholars each year.”