Presentation of plans made to OGISD board

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

Orange Grove Junior High principal Arnold Diaz presented a new math timeline and TAKS tutorial implementation plan for his campus last week at the Orange Grove ISD school board meeting.

The challenge is that much harder this year, after the state increased its standards for eighth grade students starting in the 2007-2008 school year, officials said. Under new state requirements, eighth graders must pass both the reading and math portions of the TAKS test to be promoted to the next grade level.

His presentation, accompanied by input from math department head Diana Aguilar, stressed the need to focus on math at the junior high campus, and explained the school's more proactive approach to increasing student scores.

The campus will begin with a Saturday TAKS Math Academy for those students who need extra emphasis to increase their TAKS performance.

This week, OGJH students participated in benchmark testing at all grade levels.

The scores will be used to determine which students are in need of tutoring, Diaz said.

The plan of action will begin the first week of December, with the school targeting 40 students, with slightly above and below the standard scores, for specific emphasis in math in preparation for the TAKS test.

Parents and students will be notified in advance about the need to attend the Saturday Math Academy. Academies will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on five separate Saturdays. Four math teachers will be involved with the academy, each teaching a 40-minute session.

Each Saturday, the students will rotate through four, 40-minute sessions, involving intense, hands-on activities with problem solving applications of skill. The dates for the academies are Dec. 15, Jan. 19, Feb. 2 and 16, and March 8. Transportation will be provided for bus students.

Another benchmark test will take place March 11, and through those scores, officials will target eighth grade students for tutoring.

The tutoring sessions will take place in April, and occur during the Extended Classroom Opportunity (ECO), much like an eighth period, extending from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Sixth and seventh grade students will have their TAKS math testing done the last week of April, while eighth grade students will have the opportunity to retest in early May.

Also on the agenda, Josie Schuenemann, Assistant Director of the TRiO Education Talent Search Program at Coastal Bend College, presented information on educational opportunities several Orange Grove students have taken advantage of the past year.

There were 73 students served this year from the surrounding area. Several students participated in a college tour of the Del Mar and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi campuses, along with another 23 students attending Financial Aid Night activities.

Talent Search provided essay workshops through junior English classes, to help prepare students for their college application essays.

One student from Orange Grove attended presentations by Texas State Aquarium officials at CBC, while three students spent the day shadowing medical staff at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice.

In the last few months, Schuenemann said TRiO students have attended the Asian Cultures Museum and the Texas State Sea Lab.

Two Orange Grove students attended Upward Bound Summer Math and Science Programs. Jessica Phelps attended Texas Southern University in Houston, and Chelsea Hanna went to the University of Texas in Arlington.

Five Orange Grove students also had the opportunity to travel to Houston to visit the Holocaust Museum, spend a day at NASA, tour the University of Houston and attended an Astros game. Schuenemann said there were still openings in the TRiO program for Orange Grove students to take advantage of.

The focus of the Educational Talent Search program is to not only get students interested in college, but to make sure that have the tools necessary to get into college, and be able to see it through to graduation, Schuenemann said.