Since 2007, Indiana Code has required school corporations in the state to identify and serve students with high ability in the general intellectual and specific academic domains in grades K-12. During Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting in Syracuse of the Wawasee school board, the board heard a report from Lisa Ernsberger about the high ability program being used at Wawasee Middle School.
Ernsberger said high ability students are chosen from among those who score high in Northwest Evaluation Association, or NWEA, testing. Teachers then recommend students who they feel are ready for the high ability program.
Ernsberger showed a short video clip of a movie trailer done by the sixth grade high ability group from WMS. The culminating project involved students identifying five key scenes from a Robinson Crusoe movie and putting together a video presentation.
Indiana Department of Education has developed specific curriculum for K-8 students. It allows for pre-assessment and post-assessment of students, Ernsberger said, and therefore the growth can be measured.
Students are challenged with different genres in language arts including poetry, short stories, novels, essays and more. The high ability program is being expanded this year in Wawasee schools to include grades fifth through eighth.
In other business, during his Stat of the Month presentation Dr. Bob Cockburn talked briefly about NWEA testing results for the fall of 2013, spring of 2014 and fall of 2014. He said depending on the grade, it allows for teachers and administrators to track the same class back a year or two to see if any progress has been made in testing results.
For one example, the current second grade class showed an improvement of 48.4 percent to 59.3 percent in reading when comparing the spring of 2014 to the fall of 2014. Other areas had declining test scores, such as the fifth grade class dropping from 58 percent to 54.1 percent in math during the same time period.
Also on the agenda, there was discussion about one of the proposed school board policy updates during its second reading. The policy concerns a parent giving permission for their child to play sports after the child has been dealing with cardiac arrest problems. Board member Mary Lou Dixon questioned the fact a parent would be qualified to make such a judgement. After discussion, it was determined at least written, not verbal, permission should be given to the coach.
The policy will be considered for approval during its third reading at the December board meeting.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent, noted it is becoming harder to find qualified substitute teachers. He said the economy has improved the last couple of years and that may be a reason subs are harder to find. Currently the qualifications to be a substitute teacher including having at least two years of college, but the board voted to ease the requirement to only one year of college in hopes of attracting more candidates.
Other agenda items included:
• Wawasee High School girls golf team members were recognized and given or will be given certificates in honor of qualifying for the state tournament. Team members include Madison Beaman, Kamryn Foy, Elizabeth Jackson, Mikala Mawhorter, Courtney McDaniel, Kylee Rostochak and Aubrey Schmeltz. Coaches are Steve Coverstone and Bruce Jackson and the team manager was Jeffrey Moore.
• The board approved a donation of $5,700 from the Milford PTO to be used for improvements such as new furniture for the school library.
• The board approved a donation of a staging platform for the WHS choral program.
• A 1028 public hearing concerning the building of a new Syracuse Elementary School will be held during the Dec. 9 board meeting.
• Approval was given by the board to add an anatomy and physiology class to the WHS career and technical education courses.
• The board approved a $500 donation from Grant and Mary Kroes — $250 for the Boomerang Backpacks program and $250 for the culinary arts program at WHS.
• And the board approved purchasing five new school buses from Kerlin Bus Sales and Leasing at a cost of $466,455 as part of the yearly bus fleet cycling.