At the Local School Improvement Council [LSIC]/Faculty Senate meeting at Hillsboro Elementary School, board of education members received good news concerning test scores from the school’s principal, Joe Arbogast.
“Standardized testing typically starts at a low end and then we see improvements as it goes along,” Arbogast said. “At Hillsboro, we see out of the data we’ve recovered, we’ve seen significant increases in our test scores. The big one that I boast about – the West Virginia state average is forty-nine percent of students are proficient in reading, which means they score at the mastery level. At Hillsboro, we achieved that – we established fifty-five percent. We are above the state average here.”
The high scores continue through all test subjects of reading/language arts, science, social studies and math. As fourth grade students, the current fifth grade had 77 percent of its class at or above mastery level in reading/language arts and science. That same class also had 54 percent at mastery in math.
The fifth grade students who are now sixth grade students at Marlinton Middle School also fared well.
“[They] have accomplished a very rare feat in standardized testing, one that is unheard of,” Arbogast said. “In every core subject tested, over half of the students, fifty percent or higher, achieved mastery or higher.”
Students were at or above mastery at the following percentages: 60 percent in reading/language arts; 53 percent in math; 67 percent in science and 67 percent in social studies.
Arbogast, who became principal at the school this summer, was filled with pride for his new students when he saw the test scores.
“I came from Randolph County and fell into a pot of gold in Pocahontas County,” he said. “I am very proud to be here – very proud to be principal, and I don’t think I could’ve ended up anywhere any better.”
Reporting for the LSIC, Arbogast said many issues have been addressed at the school to make it as safe as possible.
“The primary area we looked at was most important, as I said, was building safety,” he said. “In the two months since my arrival, I have met with [Maria] Hall and Sondra Vaughn, and members of the LSIC team and said we’ve got to do something. I want the safest building in the county. That’s what we have to have here. I won’t stop until it’s where I think it needs to be.”
In the last two months, Arbogast said the school has spent $4,000 in Step 7 funding on items to make the school safer, including mirror tinting for the windows and quick release black-out blinds. The window treatments make it impossible for outsiders to look into the rooms and see the students.
Arbogast and the staff have also updated the emergency exit plan for any disaster that may occur.
“We have a type of plan implemented in the event of a crisis situation,” Arbogast said. “We call it a blowout plan where we have to get out of this building. The teachers and I are the only ones that know about that plan. No one else knows what happens. We keep that confidential.”
To ensure the staff is able to communicate at all times, Arbogast purchased walkie-talkies for everyone to use.
The LSIC also purchased a bike rack for the students who ride their bikes to school.
“We’re going to mount it right outside the doors here so the kids can pull in and go right into the cafeteria and secure their bikes throughout the day,” Arbogast said.
“They promised me that they are going to start riding their bikes for exercise. That’s their word, so I’m going to hold them to it,” he joked.
Arbogast thanked the board for its support for the school and for visiting.
Kristi Tankersly’s fourth grade class gave a presentation on the Star Spangled Banner. They are currently studying about our National Anthem in history class. Gina Hardesty’s fifth grade class sang a song which helps them memorize the names of the 50 states.
The board thanked the students for the presentation and thanked Arbogast and staff for the hospitality.
The next board meeting is Tuesday, October 14, at 6 p.m. at the board of education conference room.