School officials have even more reason to celebrate as test scores all across the county are on the rise.
Just days after announcing that graduation test results were higher than last year's scores, writing test results for fifth grade came in. And the results were encouraging, officials said.
According to Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Kathy Collins, the goal is to have students score in stage four through six of the six writing stages measured by the test. Compared to last year's strong results, this year was even better, she said.
The principals of both Norris and Dearing Elementary emphasized the importance of writing and expressed their excitement about the increase in scores. DES Principal Linda Grisham said the importance the school has placed on reading is a key component of the rising scores on the writing test.
"The better readers they are, the better writers they become," she said at the May 11 Board of Education planning session.
At Norris, students scoring in stage one or two decreased from last year. And at Dearing Elementary no students scored in stage one, two or three, compared to last year when 6.2 percent of students scored in stage three.
In the top category, stage six, DES students saw significant increases. In spring of 2004, 7.7 percent of Dearing fifth graders earned stage six status. This year, 12.9 percent scored in the highest category.
Collectively, both schools saw a 2 percent increase in students scoring in the highest three categories. At the same time, students scoring in the lowest three categories decreased by 1 percent.
Administrators attributed the better scores to a number of programs that incorporate writing into everyday activities. NES Principal Steve Rhodes said even in P.E. classes students have a clipboard and are expected to write as part of their activities.
Thomson Middle School Principal Claude Powell praised the efforts of the elementary schools toward writing, saying that the improvement is certainly seen once the students get to his school.
"Our view as administrators is we're only as good as those that came before us," he said.