Purcell board of education members got a snapshot Monday evening of high school efforts to ensure graduates are college-ready when they receive their diplomas.

Principal Bret Petty shared data from the State Department of Education that showed 17 of 42 graduates in the Class of 2017 who enrolled at in-state colleges that fall needed remediation in science, math and English.

Petty explained the state department uses ACT scores to determine students who need remediation in specific subjects.

The department has established 19 as a benchmark score across the board, he added.

He added that some students score better on the untimed Accuplacer test than they do on the ACT, which is a timed test.

Petty said the effort to improve remediation numbers begins when students are freshmen.

All ninth graders are taken to Mid-America Technology Center for a tour and an introduction to what the center has to offer.

An effort is made to ensure all sophomores take the pre-ACT test in the fall.

Teachers receive both the students’ scores and the answers to the pre-ACT.

All juniors have the opportunity to take the ACT in both the fall and the spring.

“We try to get all of them to take it,” he added.

In addition, the high school offers as many concurrent college classes as possible. Fifty-seven are enrolled in concurrent college courses at present.

Petty also shared the most recent dropout numbers.

The district tracks students who complete eighth grade through 12th grade.

In 2018, three students dropped out, three others left to be home schooled and nine finished the school year without graduating.

Home schooling is no longer considered a safety net for those students, Petty said.

Last year two of those students graduated and four are now working toward graduation – one through GED and three through the district’s alternative education program.

Reasons students drop out vary, but Petty acknowledged fast food jobs that pay up to $15 an hour are an issue.

“That’s the most money they’ve seen and we lose some kids there,” he said.

Another dropout drain are virtual schools. In fact, Petty said the high school lost three students in the past three weeks to a virtual school.

Often the foray into a virtual school doesn’t pan out and those students return to the high school.

When they do, they’ve fallen even further behind and it’s a scramble to try to catch up in alternative ed.

One possible solution would be for the district to start its own virtual school, keeping students and state revenue in Purcell

Another issue is parents unable or unwilling to make sure their teen attends class.

“It’s a big circle that goes round and round and goes on forever,” he said.

In other business, the board:

  • appointed administrators Petty, Tammy Dillard, Dr. Sheli McAdoo, Jay Solomon, Jerry Swayze, Tina Swayze and Carol Testa as personnel evaluators;
  • approved a resolution calling for a primary election on February 11 for Office 5 on the board. If needed, a general election will be April 7;
  • approved general fund and building fund revenue and expenditure plans for the 2019-20 school year, and
  • accepted bids totaling $6,984 for three surplus school buses.

In her superintendent’s report, McAdoo congratulated the softball team for its Regional championship. The team will begin State tournament play at 11 a.m. today (Thursday).

She also praised the high school band that finished second in a Class 3A competition over the weekend at Sapulpa. The band finished third overall.

She told the board that she has contacted Jackie Wadley of Wadley EMS about having an ambulance or EMT available at all Purcell football games. There would be no cost to the district, McAdoo said, adding she made the request following the death last month of a Lexington eighth grade football player.

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