Warsaw Community Schools have approved a traditional calendar for the 2014-2015 academic school year.
According to Dave Hoffert in a school board work session last week, the school released a survey for staff, parents and community members to provide their input as to which scenario was preferred. After reviewing the information provided, the school came to a consensus that, due to the fact there was no overwhelming preference, the traditional calendar would be chosen.
According to results generated, a total of 2,057 responses were received. Of those, 50 percent favored a traditional calendar and 50 percent favored the modified calendar. Responses were broken down and indicated that parents held 927 votes, students held 600 votes, WCS staff members held 516 votes and members of the community made up 107 of the votes.
Of those who voted, students were the only group to favor the modified calendar noting the value of the short breaks that would be built in throughout the school year. Parents and community members represented those who favored the traditional model noting scheduling issues with summer jobs, child care, athletics, the Indiana Sate Fair and holidays. Staff members represented an entirely even split with 50 percent favoring the traditional calendar and 50 percent favoring the modified calendar.
The school stated in a summary of its rationale for considering the move to a balanced calendar that longer breaks could offer remediation during the school year when remediation is timely and relevant. In addition, the subcommittee noted that it would allow extra practice before high stakes tests in the spring, enrichment camps for students could be offered during intersessions and that the breaking up of the calendar could provide a more even spread out of time periods with breaks. The subcommittee also noted that this could allow teachers and custodians time without students in the buildings to accomplish major projects.
Lastly, the subcommittee found that, based on phone calls to area schools and organizations, private schools in the area would move to the balanced calendar along with WCS and local services would adjust their programming to accommodate the different breaks.
The subcommittee noted that arguments against the calendar included the fact that the state does not currently reimburse intersession remediation as it does summer schools and that alternate funding would have to sought.
In other news, following the hearing by the Indiana Senate Commission on Education last Friday (See story), Amy Sivley, chief accountability officer at WCS, offered an in-depth look at the events that transpired during the 2013 ISTEP+ testing period.
The ISTEP+ testing began with an applied skills window that utilized a paper test. The applied skills section of the test took place from March 4 to March 13. Sivley stated that following 2012’s use of the online test with fifth to eighth graders, the Indiana Department of Education required that all students between third to eighth grade test online.
According to Sivley, WCS Technology Department underwent extensive work to ensure that the school corporation was prepared for the ISTEP+ testing online. Sivley stated that the department deployed 140 new desktops, 30 new laptops, 130 new USB mice, 200 new headphones, a new laptop cart, 300 new external supplemental batteries, two new wireless access points, wiring for 90 new computers and replacements for 30 laptop batteries.
Though Sivley stated the school corporation as a whole was entirely ready to begin the testing, CTB and the Indiana Department of Education “let them down.” Following a fog delay on the first day of online testing, students began to experience connection issues across the state. The IDOE recommended that schools cease test taking until the next day in an effort to resolve the server issues that had arisen.
Though the IDOE gave the green light to schools to continue testing the next day, some schools within the corporation were wary and decided to not test on day two. Server issues began again at 11:05 a.m. until once again the IDOE suspended testing state-wide. After two days of server issues making testing impossible for many students, the IDOE requested that schools decrease their daily test load by 50 percent to help the strain placed upon the server.
Sivley said though the testing period was extended, the damage to students test taking state of mind had been done. According to Sivley, while students were taking tests many had issues logging in and would experience what the WCS Technical Department coined the “globe of death”. During a students test a spinning globe would appear on the screen and would continue spinning until it kicked the student off of the testing server.
As StaceyPageOnline.com reported on June 12, WCS Superintendent Dr. Craig Hintz noted due to the continual server issues experienced during the ISTEP+ testing period, the school has indicated that all students were affected by the disruptions to the IDOE. Following the corporation’s findings, the IDOE contracted with an independent third party to investigate the validity of the test results. According to Hintz, it will be approximately 3 to 4 months until results are released as to the extent of the scores affected.