By Pam Robinson.
Jody Pfister, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the MSD of Mount Vernon, provided an overview of ISTEP, ECA and IREAD district test scores at the Monday, July 16, meeting of the Mount Vernon School Board. ISTEP evaluates 3rd through 8th graders in mathematics and English and language arts as well as science (in grades 4 and 6) and social studies (in grades 5 and 7); ECA evaluates the Algebra I and English 10 skills of high school sophomores; IREAD, a new test this year for 3rd graders, evaluates their reading readiness. Third graders must pass the IREAD exam before they can advance to 4th grade. Pfister noted cause for celebration and room for improvement in the school district.
Marrs Elementary School has, perhaps, the most reason to celebrate. As Pfister highlighted, Marrs has ranked 13th in the state on ISTEP out of over 1500 schools in Indiana. In addition, 97.8 percent of the school district’s third graders passed the IREAD exam, or 133 out of 136 students.
On the other hand, West fell below the state average in English and language arts. To help students improve, Pfister said that teachers would set goals and strategies to raise scores in English and language arts and that a curriculum coach has been hired for West through Title I grant funding to target English and language arts instruction. In addition, another special education teacher assistant has been hired for West.
Pfister drew attention to better serving special education students with testing known as IMAST.
“Special education students have the ability to take an alternate test called IMAST when they take ISTEP,” she explained. “At West, I think we underserved our special education population. We need to look again at our special education students and see if in our conferences with parents, we can suggest they take an IMAST test if it’s the child’s best interest. West has a very low number taking IMAST, especially considering the enrollment numbers.”
Pfister stressed that passing an IMAST test carries the same weight as passing an ISTEP test. Students taking IMAST must demonstrate competency in knowledge areas the same as students taking ISTEP. The difference lies in test material presentation. Students taking IMAST may choose, for example, from three possible answers on multiple choice questions whereas students taking ISTEP choose from four possible answers. Likewise, instructions may be simplified on an IMAST test.
Pfister pointed out that when scores disappoint, the school district “rallies the troops,” and the public can expect to see a significant gain in scores the next testing period.
“We have things in place that will help us improve our scores,” affirmed Dr. Tom Kopatich, Superintendent of Schools.
In other business:
• Loren Evans, Director of Business and Technology, reviewed information for the Transportation Fund, Debt Service Fund, and the Pension Bond Debt Service Fund for use in establishing the 2013 budget. His review revealed no cause for worry in these funds. At the next meeting, Evans will review information for the General Fund, the Capital Projects Fund, the Bus Replacement Fund and the Rainy Day Fund.
• The board confirmed the employment of the following personnel: Christine Franklin as academic coach and newspaper/yearbook sponsor at the junior high; Staci Reese as assistant coach for junior high girls’ track; Hajja Riffert as teacher assistant in the junior high computer lab; Evan Schneider as high school custodian; Tammy Schneider as department head for social studies at the junior high; and Teresa Shannon-Hornbeck as teacher assistant for junior high special education.
• The board accepted the following resignations, effective immediately; Drew Duckworth as junior high teacher assistant; Robert Seifert as assistant football coach for 7th grade; and Teresa Shannon-Hornbeck as junior high teacher.
• The board approved the food service agreement with CAPE Headstart. The agreement, including price, is the same as last year.
• The board granted West Side Family Church permission to use Marrs Elementary cafeteria to conduct an outreach service on Sunday, July 29, 2012. Since this is a Sunday request, board permission is required.
• Loren Evans, Director of Business and Technology, provided board members with a copy of the annual financial report for the 2011-12 school year. The report will be published in local media, and a copy will be sent to the Indiana Department of Education.
• Evans also presented information on the contracted bus routes fuel adjustment. For the period of April through June, 2012, to August through October, 2012, a 52-cent, or 2.5 percent, decrease has been allowed.
The Mount Vernon School Board will meet again Monday, August 6, 2012, 5:45 p.m. in the junior high media center.
By Pam Robinson.
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