PHS received notification this week it was ranked “effective” for the 2005-06 school year by the Ohio Department of Education.
“Five years ago, we were in ‘academic emergency,'” said PHS Principal Ann Charles. “Now, we have moved up and met the academic standards to be ranked ‘effective.'”
The Portsmouth City School District as a whole was designated “continuous improvement” for the 2005-06 school year. There are five designations: excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch and academic emergency.
According to the DOE report card, Portsmouth's 10th grade met reading, writing, math and social studies requirements, and the school met the standards in 11th-grade reading.
“We did not meet the standards in science. However, we outscored similar districts with the same demographics,” Charles said. “We scored 66 percent, and similar districts scored 58.8 percent.”
Charles said that PHS has added six Advanced Placement courses: chemistry, studio art, calculus, English literature and composition, English language and composition, and government.
“We are following a nationally-adopted curriculum so that a college can see the student's academic proficiency by course, and know what curriculum the student had,” she said. “That carries added weight on their transcript.”
Charles said PHS will add three technical prep courses this year, Project Lead the Way national pre-engineering curriculum, Business Pathway and Teacher Pathway.
“We already offer Media Pathway,” Charles said. “It gives the student a seamless path between high school and college.”
Students can earn college credits while still in high school.
PHS also will offer intervention courses beginning with the second semester this year.
“Eleventh- and 12th-graders who haven't passed the Ohio graduation test will be in an intervention course in the field where they need the extra help,” she said.
Charles also said high school students will be attending block scheduled classes, meaning classes will be 85 minutes long instead of the seven periods of 45 minutes each.
Junior high students will have block scheduling in math and language arts.
“We hired an outside consultant who made recommendations on class structuring and we learned that starting with the seventh grade, students should receive a double dose of the core subjects,” she added.
Charles said students who already are considered advanced will be able to complete a full-year course in one semester, and by the time they are juniors, they probably will be able to take a “full load” of college courses.
Teachers and administrators are busy putting the final touches on areas of the new school, and Charles said it has brought a new excitement.
“We now have air conditioning, so it won't be 100 degrees on the third floor. We have plasma televisions, so that a teacher can project something for his or her student,” she said. “We got 1,000 new computers in our district, and each classroom is wired for 10 computers each, so we hope to get those in the near future. And we are really proud of our state-of-the-art library.
“Students stopped by this summer and they are really excited about the schools,” Charles added. “I believe they will affect the students academically, too.”
Vice Principal Tom Smith agrees.
“The attitude of kids is improving, and it makes for a better attitude among teachers as well,” Smith said. “I believe the new schools and the ‘effective' rating will be a springboard into the start of the new school year. It will give us more and better things, to help us produce a quality education.”
The only challenges Smith sees when the schools first open are learning where things are and how they work.
“You've got to understand the old schools were presenting a lot of operations snags,” he said. “One room would be cold, another room would be hot, doors wouldn't shut, locks wouldn't lock. Now we have done away with those problems and we have air conditioning, it doesn't get any better than this.”
Charles said that while the school administration is happy with the ‘effective' ranking, they will not be resting on past laurels.
“No way, we're shooting for ‘excellent.'”
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.