Laurel School District makes significant changes

With the upcoming release of the 2017-18 state assessment results, the Laurel School District has
developed an intensive plan to address student proficiency, including changes to administration,
policies, technology, instruction and curriculum that will affect overall school climate.

“With over 80 percent of our students scoring below the proficiency mark in many areas, we see great
opportunity for growth,” said Laurel Superintendent Dr. Toy L. Watts. “As I begin my first full school year
with the Laurel School District, we are excited to bring about many positive changes for 2018-19. During
the summer, our leadership team worked diligently to revamp all aspects of the district.”

The Laurel School District began the year with changes in leadership at every school in the district.

“With four new principals joining the Tornado family, we are eager to see their energy and enthusiasm
for student achievement at work, and that coupled with the experience and wisdom of our veteran
administrators, we anticipate much needed growth.”

To work toward increasing student growth, the district hired two instructional specialists who are
working closely with teachers by modeling rigorous and engaging lessons and making sure teachers
understand the state curriculum standards. In addition, the district has added the position of a district-
wide Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) coordinator to work alongside schools to streamline and
reinforce supports provided to students. MTSS is designed to assure that instruction is being provided to
meet the specific needs of all students.

With student engagement in mind and working toward the goal of graduating college and career ready
students, the district is currently in the process of purchasing additional technology for students. With
the purchase of additional mobile carts that feature Wi-Fi and Chromebooks, classrooms will have
greater access to technology. Over the past several months, the district added 419 devices with
immediate plans to purchase 450 more.

In addition to devices, the district purchased new curriculum software that will provide teachers with an
all-encompassing program that puts student data from multiple sources into one easy to access
dashboard. This will allow teachers quicker reference to student information and assessments to assist
in data-driven instruction. Along with software, the curriculum department has expanded their use of
standards-based instructional materials and tools.

“If we increase our instructional rigor and continue reinforcing the state’s curriculum standards, we will
see our students move toward proficiency,” Watts said.

To assist with instructional rigor, the district has hired numerous consultants to provide support in the
areas of science, math and language. At Laurel Middle School and Laurel High School, the principals
implemented built-in tutorial time based on individual student’s identified academic weaknesses.

“This is the year for change in the Laurel School District,” Watts said, “We have to make significant
changes for our students’ future success. Every decision made and every change instituted will be done
with student achievement in mind. Our goal as a district is to make sure that our students are successful
beyond their years in Laurel.”

With all of the changes being made, Watts says that the most important factor in student success will be
support from parents and the community.

“Support for a successful school system is crucial,” Watts continued. “For us to see the changes and
improvements we desire, we will need support from every member of the Laurel community. We ask
that you join us in encouraging our students and teachers and help us move this district to greater levels
of success. We look forward to the challenges and triumphs that this new school year will bring and we
hope that everyone will join us in our pursuit to BE GOLDEN!”

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