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Homestead excels, but sees room to improve

Assistant Principal Dianne Moake highlighted a number of areas Homestead High School excels in, but she said there’s still room for improvement.

Moake presented school achievement data Tuesday night to the school board. The data were based on several high school measures, including college entrance exam scores, national and state recognition for high-achieving students and an increase in the number of students taking college-level courses while in high school.

These college-readiness measures show students graduate from Homestead “ready for the next level of rigor,” she said.

Moake said the school is still looking to improve its strong track record. The school’s attendance and graduation rates have remained steady at about 96 percent and 93 percent, respectively.

“While (the graduation rate) looks good we can do much better than this,” Moake said. She said the school is also working to identify students who aren’t attending school because they struggle to graduate.

A major goal for the school is to close gaps among different student populations on end-of-course assessments, the standardized tests for high schools.

A specific area of focus is the school’s population of special education students who have a 56 percent passage rate for the English portion of the test compared to an 89 percent passage rate for all students. Moake said the school has made some staffing changes and implemented co-teaching, when a special education teacher and a general education teacher are both actively engaged with students in one classroom. As a result, the gap between achievement for special education students and all students has narrowed, she said.

Moake also provided the board a look at where Homestead students end up after they leave the district. Thanks to federal grant money, the district contracts with the National Student Clearinghouse to track students’ movements after high school, specifically enrollment in 2- and 4-year high education institutions and technical schools.

The data gives the school a better idea of how well it’s preparing students for life after high school. It also provides an opportunity for the school to follow up with students to see if there are areas for improvement, Moake said.

The board also heard the effects of a $2 million bond issue, passed Oct. 16, on SACS taxpayers. The bond will raise the tax bill less than $1 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home. .

Half will be used to build a new 12-court tennis facility with parking across Homestead Road from the district administration building.

The high school tennis teams will use the facility along with gym classes and community groups.

The bond will also pay for a kitchen renovation at Haverhill Elementary, a new entryway at Lafayette Meadows Elementary, and other security upgrades.