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Nance #039;excited#039; by improvements in Ironton High proficiency scores

Most educators might be worn out a bit after only the second full day of school, but not Ironton High School Principal Dean Nance. He was pumped Monday evening.

"I'm excited," he said, referring to an increased enrollment in college-track classes at the school and statistics from summer school tests

on the Ohio proficiency test.

The test, used to compare all schools throughout the state, is administered during the school year, but also at the end of the summer school session for students trying to make-up failed scores.

Although currently the tests are used only for comparative purposes, soon each student in Ohio must pass the test in order to graduate.

Students who initially fail must take 10 hours of summer school in order to take the re-test.

Tests consist of five primary areas: Mathematics, citizenship, science, reading and writing.

Summer school students are allowed to take more than one make-up test.

For Nance, the sheer number of tests taken and, more important, the higher number of passing tests reflect a "change in paradigm" in the schools and are proof that Ironton High is turning a corner.

"Last year 25 parts of the test were taken," Nance said. "Twelve passed.

This past summer, 97 parts were taken and 64 passed."

Nance attributes the improvements to the teachers, parents and students.

"The support of the parents has been overwhelming, and they deserve a pat on the back for encouraging their kids to come this summer," he said. "It was all voluntary.

"And, I think it was superb teaching by those teachers in the summer," Nance said. "I'm beginning to see an attitude of 'refuse to lose' when it comes to academics."

In addition to the test scores, Nance said he was thrilled by an increasing enrollment in higher-level courses at the school.

"The number of students in Chemistry I last year was 47," he said. "This

year … (we have) 68.

"Physics went from 10 to 44," Nance said. "I knew it was going to be good, (but) when I saw things like 47-68, I knew there was a change in students' perspective.

"I attribute it to a change in the students' self-confidence and quality of teaching," Nance said. "Last year, we didn't have enough students to have a Chemistry II class. Now we have 11; we have a class."

Nance said another reason for the increase was the implementation of "Gear Up," a cooperative, grant-funded program between Ohio University and Ironton City Schools.

"It prepares kids for college," he said. "It teaches kids … that they do have the ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps."

Nance said he felt like the "proudest any coach could be."

"When I say coach, I mean that we're working as a team, and we are on a mission to give these kids the best education that we possibly can," he said. "It's been a pretty good second day." Kevin Cooper/The Ironton Tribune