STANFORD — Lincoln County Middle and High schools will start a rigorous new English program in the coming school year intended to improve students' college and career preparedness dramatically.
The district school board gave unanimous approval Thursday night to spend $47,530 on a program for administrators, teachers and students called SpringBoard.
SpringBoard educates teachers about evidence-based strategies for teaching in English and language arts and sets up goals for student progress every step of the way from sixth grade to graduation.
The goal is to have as many students as possible in the school passing certain levels of achievement on tests like the ACT.
Angela Cain researched the program and its results in other schools and told the board she has high expectations for what it can do in Lincoln County.
"It teaches students how to think and learn," she said. "Those are skills students can use not only in their English language arts classes but in all their other (classes) as well."
Administrators will train in the new program July 23, and teacher training for those who will be using the program is July 24-26. On Aug. 8, teachers will begin using the new program in their classrooms.
Cain said 100 percent of teachers and administrators who would be using the program want to use it and believe it will work.
Superintendent Karen Hatter agreed.
"It isn't a top-down decision," Hatter said. "They (the teachers) decided they wanted it and then they came to us."
Cain said she wasn't conservative when she set a first-year goal for the program of getting a 10-percent increase in the number of students scoring well on the ACT and two other ACT-based preparedness tests.
"If you shoot for the moon and you miss, you still land on the stars," she said. "We believe we can get a lot of bang for our buck."
Just under 40 percent of high school students scored at or above the benchmark goal on the ACT in the 2010-2011 school year.
Lincoln County High School Principal Tim Godbey said official ACT results for the most recent school year haven't come back yet, but he expects the high school to have improved substantially, exceeding the state average of around 50 percent.
If the high school has 52 percent of its students reach the benchmark this year, that means the goal for next year with SpringBoard would be 62 percent, Godbey explained.
"It's a realistic goal," he said.
Hatter said research has shown SpringBoard has been able to create that much improvement in other schools.
Godbey and Cain said in other schools where SpringBoard has been implemented, there has also been a cost-savings from reduced copying and paper use.
Before the board voted to approve the SpringBoard program, School Board Chairman Jim Kelley told Cain the board is fully behind the teachers and the idea.
"We'll give you whatever support we can to get that done," he said.