Licking Heights Superintendent Thomas Tucker said his staff and faculty intend to focus on academic achievement for both struggling and high-achieving students, in preparation for fall.

Licking Heights Superintendent Thomas Tucker said his staff and faculty intend to focus on academic achievement for both struggling and high-achieving students, in preparation for fall.

For the third year since he joined the district, Tucker is holding an "administrative kickoff" Aug. 4 to bring together building administrators.

"We're coming off a sound academic year, where students demonstrated a great deal of gain," Tucker said. "Our expectation is, every student experiences one year of growth, and many students exceeded that.

Tucker said the gains were especially impressive in the middle grades.

"Clear and concise goals at the district level, building level help position students and teachers for learning," Tucker said.

"It is about 20 people, all the principals, the assistant principals, supervisors, coordinators and the district treasurer," Tucker said. "I've done this since I started here in 2008. You want to build a learning community."

Among the main areas of focus will be the federal No Child Left Behind law and its requirements for adequate yearly progress in various demographic subgroups defined by race, disability and economic status.

"The state of Ohio has 10 AYP groups, and not all of them are performing where we want them to perform," Tucker said. "We have to come up with ways and opportunities for all our students to grow."

The federal law, which is nearly 10 years old, set what many is an unrealistic goal of 100-percent student proficiency by 2013, but Tucker said schools would have to do their best to comply in any event.

"It means we have a target to reach," Tucker said. "It's really irrelevant whether the target can be fully reached. The expectation is, we are to reach our target whether it is realistic or not."

Tucker said the district also was ready to offer flexible-credit options mandated under recent changes to Ohio law.

"Our board has already approved a flex-credit policy and a flex-credit plan," Tucker said. "It is robust and will allow our students to move beyond seat time, to gain experience in real life. We've allowed students to do independent study and community service, so we've done aspects of flex credit before, but now it will be more formal.

"From a curricular standpoint we're going to address those students who are struggling and raise the academic bar," he said. "We're also charged with helping the students who are excelling and helping them move to the next level."

Beginning-of-the-year events include the following:

Central (grades 6-8)

5 p.m. Aug. 10: sixth-grade orientation

Noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 12: seventh- and eighth-grade schedules available for pickup

North (grades 4-5)

5:30 p.m. Aug. 26: fifth-grade camp meeting

6 p.m. Aug. 26: open house

South (grades 2-4)

10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 12: building tours for second-grade parents

6:30 and 7 p.m. Aug. 16 and 17: building tours for second-grade parents

6:30 p.m. Aug. 24: second-grade curriculum night

6:30 p.m. Aug. 25: third-grade curriculum night

6:30 p.m. Aug. 26: fourth-grade curriculum night

West (grades K-1)

1-3 p.m. Aug. 16: kindergarten "Sneak a Peek," visit classrooms, meet teachers, bring supplies

1-3 p.m. Aug. 17: first-grade "Sneak a Peek"

Aug. 18: first day of classes for first grade students

Aug. 19, First day for morning kindergarten only; second day is Monday, Aug. 23

Aug. 20, First day for afternoon kindergarten only; second day is Monday, Aug. 23

High school

8-11 a.m. Aug. 10: schedule and pictures available for pickup

4-7 p.m. Aug. 11: schedule and pictures available for pickup

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 12: freshman orientation