Test scores rise



May 4, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Preliminary state assessment scores had USD 257 as a district meeting Adequate Yearly Progress proficiency standards in reading and math this year.
The initial report from the state showed the aggregate reading score at 87 percent, with the target for elementary through middle school 83.7 percent and the target for high school 81.3 percent. In math, the district overall score was 83 percent, compared to targets of 82.3 for elementary through middle school and 76.4 percent for high school.
Seventh and eighth grade students outdid their peers with scores of 95 and 94 percent in reading and 95 and 90 percent in math.
Scores for sophomore students were lowest, at 77 percent in reading and 55 percent in math.
Dr. Craig Neuenswander, superintendent of schools, noted those scores likely would change because the district is allowed to average them with scores from last year’s sophomores — this year’s juniors.
“That will determine whether we made AYP at that level,” he said.
Scores for sixth graders in both areas also fell a tad short of standard, 82 percent compared to 82.7 percent in reading and 80 percent compared to 82.3 percent in math, but they were offset by better results for other classes.
Third, fourth and fifth graders scored 90, 89 and 85 in reading and 93, 87 and 85 in math.
“Overall, we had some pretty impressive results,” he said.
USD 257 has been on improvement for not meeting AYP last year because the graduation rate for special education students was 55 percent, 20 points below the 75 percent standard. The previous year the rate was 78.3 percent.

LORI MAXWELL, McKinley principal, explained a six-week reading intervention pilot program that teachers in that school used recently to improve reading skills.
Primarily it involves staff working with small groups of students. Groups met for 30 minutes four days a week.
Maxwell said three groups of 12 students each used the special time for enrichment. Another 21 groups of three to five students each focused on academic needs.
Teachers prepped for the program the previous school year at the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center in Greenbush. Over the course of the six-weeks, they also met frequently to share information.
Instruction was given in five areas of reading — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
Maxwell said McKinley staff would meet soon “to decide if we want to continue the program next school year,” which appeared likely.
“Most everyone looked forward to this part of the day, and the students were especially excited to work in cross-grade groups,” she said. “We have some areas we want to refine and improve, and having a six-week period to try it out has been helpful in showing us how to better utilize time, efforts and resources.”

MEETING as Bowlus Fine Arts Center trustees, board members learned in a monthly budget analysis from Susan Raines, Bowlus director, that “we’re keeping on track.”
Jeff Jordan, technical director, said an insurance payment of $9,000 had been received for replacement of heat coils atop the Bowlus that were damaged by winter weather in December and that Friends of the Bowlus had offered to cover costs of installing new cold deck coils.
“There is opportunity for significant savings by having the cold deck coils replaced at the same time,” as those for heating, Jordan said.

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