Higher academic standards and getting students excited about such standards was a hot topic at the Greene County Schools’ Curriculum Committee Thursday meeting.

Director of Schools David McLain explained to new members that the committee’s role is to go over academic data and report to the school board in order to improve the overall academic standard of the school system.

Part of doing that is utilizing a screening system for grades K-8 called i-Ready to gather data showing the rate of academic growth.

The i-Ready system is an interactive online learning tool designed to assess students.

Interim K-8 assessment and evaluation supervisor Jennifer Teague said at the meeting that Greene County seventh-graders did better academically than the national average in Fall 2018.

“Is our composite score where we want it to be? Heck no, but we see growth and that’s what matters — we’re growing,” McLain said of the data displayed on a slideshow for the committee.

Greene County Schools Board of Education member Michelle Holt asked why reading levels are so low in grades 5-8 according to a graph displayed in a slideshow. McLain said that is a national trend.

A possible solution to the reading problem is a program called Reading Plus.

Chuckey-Doak High School Principal Shelly Smith reported at the meeting that the program particularly helps ninth-grade students get to a high school reading level. The program is being implemented in C-DHS and South Greene High School.

McLain said later in the meeting that preparation for the ACT test is one of the most difficult tasks for educators since students grow increasingly disinterested. Getting students to buy into the ACT process is difficult if they do not see a future in higher education, he said.

North Greene High School Principal Amanda Weems added that at NGHS, educators host an academic pep rally to get kids amped up to score well in the ACTs.

A lot of the students who plan on attending a Tennessee College of Applied Technology know they don’t need to show ACT scores to gain acceptance into programs, so they don’t care. However, now — unlike five years ago — all students are tested, and the school district’s results suffer because of students not scoring high on the ACT, educators said.

“We talk about curriculum, and aligning the curriculum — it’s about the standards,” Greene County High School Supervisor Cindy Bowman said at the meeting.

The next meeting will be on Jan. 17, at 5 p.m. in the back conference room of the Greene County Schools central office on Summer Street.