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Board of Education Hearings Set for This Week

Feb. 27, 2007 – The Board of Education wants to know what parents and teachers think about its promotion and retention policy for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The board, which is also looking for feedback on its grading system, is holding hearings Wednesday at the St. Croix Educational Complex and Thursday at the Curriculum Center on St. Thomas. Both hearings begin at 6 p.m.
Board President Debra Smith-Watlington said Tuesday that it held a meeting last Thursday on St. John, but that only two people attended. "We have a lot of work to do in bringing education to the forefront," she said, reflecting on the poor St. John attendance.
She said that the board contacted each school. Additionally, she said the parent/teacher associations at the schools got the word out to parents.
In addition to parents and teachers, anyone interested in education is invited to provide input. "Public participation is critical to the policy development process," she said.
She said that as policy now stands, students in kindergarten through third grade are automatically passed, but they're supposed to be placed in transitional classes with the hope that the extra help will bring them up to grade level. However, that program isn't working well.
"Not every school has a transitional program, and a number of schools have different programs," Smith-Watlington said, adding that lack of staff and space shortages are hampering program efforts.
She said the board needs to establish guidelines for what students are expected to learn in each grade.
Smith-Watlington said that addressing the issue early on will help prevent problems when the students get to middle school and beyond.
She said that many ninth-grade students lack basic reading, writing and math skills. And she said that as it turns out, many students with discipline problems lack those same skills.
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