Rock Hill schools chief gets good review

Lynn Moody received high marks from the Rock Hill school board Monday in her first evaluation since becoming superintendent in August.

Moody received satisfactory or better marks on 89 percent of board members' questions evaluating her performance.

Now that Moody's had a chance to settle into the job, board members said they would like to see a renewed focus on improving test scores and graduation rates in the district and on closing the gap between high achieving students and low achieving students.

Those goals came as no surprise to Moody, who has been working to address those concerns.

The plan breaks the district's goals into 10 categories and suggests steps for achieving each one.

At the top of the list is putting a focus on standards. That means aligning the curriculum across subjects and grade levels and making sure lessons are well-paced and tailored to required tests.

"You can't pass the test if you haven't been exposed to the material," Moody said.

Moody said making progress toward better achievement can be difficult because it requires balancing the desire to see results right away with the need to make the right improvements.

"What we do is not simple," she said. "We're talking about growing human beings, and that doesn't happen overnight."

According to the district's 2006 school report card, the number of students who didn't show a basic level of proficiency in either English/language arts, math, science or social studies ranged from 20.7 percent to 35.5 percent.

Students had the most trouble in science and the least trouble in math.

Those numbers are from before Moody was promoted. The 2006-2007 report card has not been released.

Board Chairman Bob Norwood said it is fairly standard to make student achievement the top priority.

"This year for us, it probably applies more so because we have experienced a flattening of our tests scores over the past few years," he said. "We have not seen the kind of progress that we'd hoped we would see."

The district's graduation rate last year was 68.9 percent, according to the report card.

That number was lower for minorities and students of lower socioeconomic status.

In order to make sure benchmarks are being met, school board meetings in the upcoming school year will be more tailored to specific topics from the strategic plan, Moody said.

Meetings could focus on topics including staff engagement, teacher collaboration, early childhood development and monitoring achievement.

As a result of her good evaluation, Moody's contract was extended one year through June 30, 2011. She will receive the same 5.31 percent pay increase as other district employees, plus an extra $5,000. That brings her new annual salary to $152,434.

Moody was hired as superintendent in mid-August after her mentor, then-superintendent Randy Bridges, announced his resignation in late July.

Moody came to the district in 2003 and was serving as associate superintendent of planning and student services when she was tapped to be superintendent.

She has more than 20 years of experience in education and has taught in both Carolinas and in Virginia.