At the September Chattooga County Board of Education meeting, Chairman John Agnew delivered a speech regarding his opposition to the proposed tennis court construction at Chattooga High School. Agnew chose to dedicate a large portion of his speech towards the academic performance of children at Leroy Massey Elementary School.
Chairman Agnew said, “In my opinion, it seems foolish for the school board to be discussing tennis courts when our school children are suffering so academically.” Agnew continued to speak for nearly two additional minutes about the bad scores from the Leroy Massey milestones tests.
The Chairman also chose not to mention any of the improved scores from county-wide elementary students nor the positive aspects of performance from Leroy Massey Elementary School. And, according to administrators, there is much good news to talk about. In fact, the 2019 Milestones achievements at Leroy Massey saw increases in ALL content areas: Math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies.
In ALL subgroups, Leroy Massey had a reduction in number of students performing at Level 1 (beginning learner) than the previous year. While there were no students from LMES’s challenged learners in the subgroup “Students With Disabilities” performing at the highest level (Level 4- distinguished learner) in 2018, results from 2019 show that every content area saw some children from this group of “Students with Disabilities” reach Level 4.
Leroy Massey has 753 total students enrolled between kindergarten and 5th grade. Just over one out of every five students at LMES has some level of physical or learning challenge. 166 total students fall within the Students With Disabilities category. The 166 SWD comprises 22.0% of the total student body which is double the state average. In comparison, Lyerly Elementary School has 380 students with 43 being classified as students with disabilities, for 11.3%. Menlo Elementary has 367 students with 49 students being classified as Students with Disabilities, for 13.4%.
During the spring 2019 testing, the percentage of students at LMES performing at Levels 2-4 went up in six out of eight tests.
Among the highest learners in those same eight tests, the percentage of students performing at Level 4 saw an increase in seven tests.
% of Levels 2-4 (SWD..Resource/Inclusion):
3rd Math 2018 (36%)…2019 (45%)
3rd ELA 2018 (18%)…2019 (63%)
4th Math 2018 (18%)…2019 (38%)
4th ELA 2019 (9 %)…2019 (27%)
5th Math 2018 (0%)…2019 (11%)
5th ELA 2018 (4%)…2019 (32%)
For a further breakdown of the SWD performances:
It is no secret within the Chattooga County School District, as well as in surrounding areas, that the staff and infrastructure at Leroy Massey Elementary School has evolved to serve those students with special needs and IEP’s. From a highly trained faculty, to the specially designed sensory stimulation room, LMES provides for these students with attention to detail. Often there are dozens of students with disabilities here whose siblings attend school at other elementary schools within the county or neighboring districts.
- Data teams are in place at Leroy Massey to analyze data to identify strengths and weaknesses to modify instruction where necessary.
- On-site professional learning is taking place with academic coach to support classroom instruction.
- Social Studies classes are incorporating writing and primary resources of inquiry.
- Communication devices are provided to non-verbal students to support communication.
- Sensory room is in place to provide a supportive environment for SWD.
- Reward systems are set up through Student of the Month, Attendance, and PBIS to motivate students in the classroom, attendance, and good behavior.
- The Success Team works with all content areas to provide strategies, analysis of data, and resources when necessary
- Each student grade 1st-5th has access to a Chromebook. With it, multiple types of software is utilized to supplement instruction (IXL, Study Island, Moby Max, etc.) as well as Google Classroom for ELA.
- SPED Director works closely with RTI/SST Committee to ensure interventions are being provided where necessary
- All inclusion for SPED students not in self-contained began last year to improve academic growth
According to Leroy Massey Principal Brian Beasley, some of the comments made by teachers new to the system: “This is a family atmosphere here“, “The staff is so professional and supportive“, “There are great teachers here!“, “I am blessed to be here from the students all the way to the staff…I am living the dream.”
Communication with parents has also grown through the Classroom Dojo. Parents can monitor behavior and talk regularly with teachers.
Beasley went on to say, “There is a lot more to this place than just the basic info above. Just see what is going on in the classroom…not just the teaching, but the interaction with the students and the relationships being developed.” Beasley knows that establishing relationships of trust with these students and their families is a key component to academic growth and development. “Get to know our kids. We have teachers busting their butts to support our kids beyond just the content area and students who are working hard to better themselves.”
In the end, LMES students have experienced continuous academic growth despite immense hurdles in compassionately coping with such a large number of specialized learning and physical challenges. But, according to teachers and administrators alike, this is a labor of love and everyone enjoys the process. “I am reminded everyday how blessed I am to be at LMES,” said Principal Brian Beasley.