BACK TO SCHOOL: Hall says focus is on individuals this year

Individualization — this is the approach superintendent David Hall is following this year in leading the Oberlin City Schools.

Hall wants to focus on closing the achievement gap in hopes of increasing test scores, graduation rates, and access to advanced courses.

The achievement gap reveals test score differences between students when looking at race, disabilities, and incomes, and the scores of peers.

On the 2015-2016 state report card, the district received an F in the gap closing metric.

Establishing more support systems is Hall’s solution. By organizing free busing for after-school tutoring sessions and working with the county’s Boys & Girls Club, he hopes more students will take advantage of the opportunity.

Hall and director of pupil services Jim Eibel will work to promote inclusion for special education students. Hall said he wants to increase support within the classroom so students with disabilities can learn alongside their peers, rather than get pulled out for individual instruction.

By analyzing past report cards and student data, he wants teachers to create individualized plans for each student.

“Suppose we notice fractions are a shortcoming for a student,” Hall said. “We need to ask, ‘How are we going to get more help for that student with fractions?’”

He suggested training tutors to notice the subject areas where individuals struggle most.

Increased rigor for gifted students is another change that may be in store. Hall said the district’s gifted students are scoring off the charts, and he wants to meet the needs for both the higher and lower ends.

A work in progress is an improved science, technology, engineering, and math lab at Langston Middle School.

Assistant superintendent John Monteleone is writing a grant to help purchase new hands-on equipment for experiments. The STEM lab has been moved into the old home economics room for increased space.

Power-efficient lighting is an additional way the schools are getting ready for fall. Fluorescent lights were swapped for LED bulbs in the main office and will soon be placed in other buildings.

Hall said he jumps on any opportunity to save money in case levies fail on the November ballot.

The Oberlin City Schools are asking for both a 0.75 percent income tax renewal and a 1.3-mill renewal for technology in classrooms.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

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By Laurie Hamame