Stats at Berta show decrease in discipline problems

Published 8:44 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Recognizing a problem, the Troup County School System started the “We Back Berta” campaign to help the school overcome discipline issues. At Monday night’s meeting, the school board had a chance to hear an update on progress at Berta, and the statistics were encouraging.

According to data presented at Monday’s meeting, school referrals have decreased 78 percent this year. Part of that success has been credited to the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports program, which is in its third year at Berta.

“Our main goal with PBIS is that we are there to teach the students our expectations. We can’t expect them to come to school and do exactly as we ask them to,” said school counselor Andrea Hopson. “Our first step is to teach those expectations and what we expect them to do at our school.”

Every Monday, teachers stop for a few minutes in the afternoon to go over expectations with students. Each month, administrators meet with school staff to look at the latest PBIS data, which shows where they are having issues.

“Today we focused on how to show respect on the bus,” Hopson said. “Every teacher throughout the school pulls up the lesson for that day, and we teach those expectations.”

The numbers were a big step forward after the school was named one of the top 10 schools for fighting in an Atlanta JournalConstitution article last year, which cited information from the Georgia Department of Education.

However, discipline isn’t the only place where Berta has seen major steps forward statistically.

The school has set goals for math scores, improving writing skills and reading scores. In reading, it’s clear there’s been progress.

“In an average year, a student has 100 points of growth,” said first year Berta principal Willie Cooks about reading scores. “This mid year our third, fourth and fifth graders have averaged already 100 points of growth, and some of our students have over 400 points of growth. That means the reading programs, such as iRead, Read 180 and System 44 are working because they are implemented with fidelity.”

Those programs have all been used throughout the county. Berta showed a video of students, who have seen their Lexile score rise by more than 300 or 400 points this year already.  A Lexile score measures a student’s reading ability.

Kirk Hancock, board chair, asked if the turnaround in discipline was because teachers were handling discipline problems in the classroom instead of sending students to the office for anything that happened. Cooks said the school has people stationed in place in the hallway and as students get on and off the bus to keep a watch on students. He said if they see a student who might’ve had a rough night, they’ll pull them to the side and ask what’s going on.

At the end of the day, he believes teachers and students have to form a bond of understanding.

“When you’re a kid and you’re out and about in the community and you do something wrong, all your mom had to do was non-verbal communication of giving you an eye. You learned that through that relationship building with that parent,” Cooks said. “Our teachers are expected to develop the same thing. They handle it internally, they are giving the skills necessary for success and it exudes throughout the building.”