Fort Frye BOE hears report on PAX results

BEVERLY — An analysis of data to measure the impact of the PAX program in Washington County schools showed a noticeable decrease in what are termed “unfocused behaviors” by students over about a year and a half of classes, according to a presentation offered to the Fort Frye Local Schools Board of Education Thursday night.

“In my mind, these are astounding results,” Dick Wittberg, health commissioner for the Washington County Health Department, said as he went through 18 months of data for 11 schools in five districts in the county. The data was masked in a manner that deleted the names of the schools, but reductions in unfocused behaviors averaged 61 percent across the schools during the measurement period, which ran from December 2018 through the end of May 2019.

The PAX good behavior game can be incorporated into classroom instruction to help children self-regulate their behaviors through positive reinforcement. Board member Kevin Worthington asked Wittberg to provide an example for the board of unfocused behavior.

“One of the people who did the audit at the beginning, for example, went into a classroom in one school and saw a kid standing in the trash can, other kids running around aimlessly,” Wittberg said. “After PAX, the kids were quiet, sitting in orderly rows, raising their hands.”

Wittberg said the data baseline for the study was measured in numbers of unfocused behaviors recorded every 15 minutes per student, which he said evened out any differences in class sizes. All schools, his report said, experienced a reduction in unfocused behaviors, ranging from 47 percent to 82 percent.

Superintendent Stephanie Starcher said the PAX training was integrated with positive behavioral intervention system techniques already in use by teachers in the district.

Starcher said after the meeting that PAX is research-based and designed to help children acquire the ability to regulate their own behavior.

“That’s something that is becoming more and more important, especially for children who are coming to school from unstable and traumatic home environments,” she said.

Adopting the program, which started in kindergarten through second grade and is being expanded upward in the coming year, would not have been possible without support from the county health department and the behavioral health board, and cooperation from Hopewell Health.

The board Thursday night also hired two teachers.

Angela Henniger, a 21-year teacher who most recently taught for Belpre City Schools, will start in the fall as an intervention specialist and high school math teacher. Henniger told the board she is a Fort Frye graduate from the class of 1994. “I’m excited to be back,” she said.

Mark Nutter, who recently retired from his position as vice president of academic affairs at Washington State Community College, will come to Fort Frye High School as a Spanish language teacher.

“I’m thrilled,” Nutter said. “Of all the districts I worked with at Washington State Community College, this is the one I would want to work for. I’m very pleased to be here.”

In other matters, the board:

¯ Accepted $2,684 in donations from various contributors.

¯ Authorized a request for proposals to purchase a new school bus.

¯ Approved transfer of $5 million from the general fund into the permanent improvement fund, and investment of $5 million from the permanent investment funds into securities.

The next regular meeting of the board is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 18 at Salem-Liberty Elementary School.

Michael Kelly can be reached at mkelly@mariettatimes.com


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