The Moore County Board of Education at its work session meeting on Monday heard from the principal of Robbins Elementary School, Christine Laurita, on her plans to improve student achievement with the Restart Schools program. 

Since 2014, when the state first began issuing letter grades to all schools, Robbins Elementary has received a D, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). The score is determined by a student’s ability to read and understand math at their grade level, as measured by a standardized test at the end of each year. Also measured is how much a student has improved.

Robbins Elementary is particularly unique for a school in Moore County, having 40% of families living below the poverty line and 28% of students for which English is not their native language, according to Laurita. Both are obstacles to student achievement that other schools in Moore County do not face. 

The hope is to turn around student performance by using the flexibility afforded under the state’s Restart Schools program. Together with two other low-performing schools, Aberdeen Elementary and Southern Middle School, Moore County Schools was given authority by NCDPI in June of 2020 to modify regulations related to school hours, hiring regulations and greater budget flexibility.

The school began to use a dual-language approach in 2015, according to former Robbins Elementary School teacher Carolina Rivero de Caraballo who was the lead teacher in the Spanish classroom. “The Dual Language Academy works the following way: students are on an A-B schedule receiving instruction in English one day and a continuation of instruction in Spanish on the next day,” said Carolina Rivero de Caraballo. The voluntary program starts in kindergarten and extends to fifth grade.

By the time students enter middle school, children taught in the dual-language program actually score higher than other students, according to Moore County School leaders. The data also shows graduation rates are higher for those receiving early instruction in two languages.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.

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