Under the state’s complicated letter grading system for public schools, a school can improve its grade from the previous year but still be required to submit an improvement plan because, for example, too many students showed a low growth rate. During the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee school board Tuesday evening in Syracuse the board heard improvement plan reports from the principals of Milford School, Syracuse Elementary School and Wawasee Middle School.
Cindy Kaiser, principal of Milford School, noted the school was given a B grade, which is good, but it had been an A school and would like to get back to that level. She said a goal is by May 2015 to raise the English/language arts percent passing from 78.4 to 85 percent and to raise the English/language arts literary text to 80 percent mastery in grades five through eight on ISTEP+.
Northwest Evaluation Association testing will be used to place students in groups to help with the literary text. Writing blocks will be created within the daily schedule too, among other measures being taken.
Eric Speicher, principal of Syracuse Elementary, said the school plans to decrease the number of math students shown as low growth on ISTEP+ from 52 to 39 percent by May 2015. And they hope to raise the overall percent of students passing English/language arts from 76.8 percent to 80 percent by May 2015. Syracuse was given a C grade.
An instructional coach is being used, third through fifth grade students are engaging more in reading each week, a math standard of the week is being implemented and English/language arts standards are being practiced.
Wawasee Middle School showed significant improvement from an F to a B, but Susan Mishler, principal, said more work is needed. One goal is to have 75.3 percent of students in all three grades pass the English/language arts portion of the ISTEP+ by May 2015. Another goal is to have no more than 27 percent of students show low growth on the English/language arts portion of ISTEP+.
Since WMS is still considered a priority school, it must meet a set of eight criteria and several interventions within those criteria. For example, it must be shown the school day is being re-purposed to accommodate purposeful and intentional remediation opportunities during the school day.
In other business, David Cates, school corporation attorney, was honored for 24 years of service to the school corporation and presented a watch as a gift. It was the last school board meeting for Cates, who becomes a county judge effective Jan. 1. His replacement, James Flecker, was approved by the school board.
The board also heard a report from Amy Evans, Milford Middle School teacher, about receiving a $10,000 Lily Endowment grant and using it for a “micro-adventure” during the summer. Evans kept quite busy during the summer with whitewater kayaking in West Virginia, wind surfing on Lake Michigan, riverboarding on the Wyoming River, mountain biking and rock climbing in Utah, hiking in Colorado and more.
Evans was able to incorporate some of her adventures into teaching her students, such as a canoe trip down the Tippecanoe River.