As school begins Wednesday, there a few things parents need to be aware of and some things that will help their children get through school more smoothly.

Webster Parish Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls says the start to the 2015-16 school year will be relatively quiet, but he’s looking forward to another great year.

With the education system in limbo right now, he says they will continue to move forward as they did last year. Students who will test this year will take a PARCC-like test, he said, but it will not be the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test they took last year.

“The curriculum and the testing is going to be the same as last year,” he said. “The two things that are in the works that will have a significant impact are the group of educators going through the Common Core (State Standards) curriculum and it’s being tweaked. That’s significant, because there will be a significant amount of changes from K through 12.”

For high schoolers, Minden High School principal Robin Tucker says they will be offering the same incentives they did last year before ACT testing.

“This program was a huge success last year and more and more students are taking the ACT sooner and more frequently,” she said in an email to the Press-Herald. “Funding for this program has been through monthly Sonic nights, donations, Brookshire’s, and Johnny’s pizza nights. We look forward to another great year of recognizing our students for the academic achievements.”

She says they will continue to offer dual enrollment courses, which will allow students to earn college credit while still in high school.

Some of those courses include Algebra III, psychology, American History and World History.

Everything else will stay the same, she said.

“We’re just going to try to manage the heat as best we can, and we’re looking forward to another great year,” she said.
The Webster Parish Library will also be offering an array of resources for students to do their homework, study and keep up their skills.

Jennifer Heard, children’s coordinator, says they are offering some new ways to help children learn.

“We’ve always had the computers here in the children’s department where they can get on and do their homework,” she said. “We’ve got a new iPad kiosk with learning games that’s specifically for younger children. It’s got three iPads and there’s 25 different apps on each tablet for the little ones to learn spelling, counting and that sort of thing.”

Started a few years ago, but just now picking up steam, Heard says, is the Accelerated Reader program where the library puts the AR book level and point levels on all the books in the children’s department and the young adult.

“It’s automatically in the AR book find website,” she said. “This is what they use to determine whether they can take the test in Webster. That’s making it a little bit easier on the parents and the kids too.”

They still have the reference materials (encyclopedias, magazines, etc.) for those who still want to physically put their hands on a book, she said.

Trelana Martin, who works with the teens, says while they offer access to many of the same resource materials, they also focus on making it fun for students to read. They, like the children’s department, offer a monthly book club where students will vote on a book to read. They are given a month to read it, and they return to the next book club meeting to discuss it.

“Since they’re so busy with school and extracurricular activities, they’re not going to have time to read a book in a week or so,” she said. “We give them a whole month to read the book, and then we come in and have a two-hour get together where we talk about it, ask questions and have a good time.”

For more information about the curriculum for this school year, call Central Office at 377-7052. For more information about the library’s resources, call 371-3080.