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Rock Hill focused on academics

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP —Academic improvement: That will be the focus this year for staff and students at Rock Hill School District where the new school year began Aug. 18.

Staff at the middle school this year plan to continue some of the changes made last year in an effort to improve test scores.

Last year the middle school began having eight-period days instead of a seven- period school day. Principal Wes Hairston said the idea was to provide additional instruction for those students having problems in some subjects and those changes are working.

He has a point: On the school report card issued earlier this month by the Ohio Department of Education, Rock Hill seventh- graders pulled off a nearly 9-point jump in math scores. In the 2004-05 school year, 53.4 percent of Rock Hill seventh graders scored at or above the proficient level in math. In the 2005-06 school year, that figure had swelled to 62.5 percent.

Eighth grade math scores ballooned as well. Last year only 47.4 percent of students scored at or above the proficient level in math. On the latest report card that figure had jumped nearly 30 points to 77.2 percent.

“Intervention works, it really does,” Hairston said. “This year we hope to continue to provide for intervention. The big focus has been on test scores and we are making gains.”

The middle school was rated in “continuous improvement” on the latest report card, as was the elementary school. Rock Hill High School was rated “effective.”

On the elementary school level, the latest report card showed that third graders held steady in reading but advanced substantially in math. Of all Rock Hill third- graders taking the test, 66.1 percent scored at or above the proficient level in reading and that was a nearly 12-point improvement over the previous report card. Fifth graders advanced in reading.

There are also new faces, too: Adam Simpson has joined the district as sixth grade language arts, music and art teacher, replacing Amy Hughes who left to take an administrative post in Chillicothe; Jerry Kidd was hired as sixth grade science teacher, replacing T.J. Howard who left to take a job in South Point and Paul Knipp has joined the staff as seventh-grade social studies teacher, replacing Andy Clark who took a job in Chesapeake.