By Rhonda Smyth, CV&T News Editor
People who are not directly involved in the school system don’t really know what testing is all about. They just know that once a year children are tested so that their teachers can discover how much they have learned during the school year.
Now new ways of following students’ progress are being introduced. By gauging their progress more often, teachers can adjust the way each individual child is taught to help them succeed.
At a meeting of the Estill County Board of Education Monday at central office, Jessica Mullins and Teresa Miller, district curriculum coaches, explained a new way of following a student’s progress entitled AIMSweb.
They explained that this program is a web-based data management and reporting system for collecting and recording data.
“Students are benchmarked or assessed three times per year to identify those who are at risk of falling behind,” Mullins explained. The focus is reading and math.
As students who need it are given extra help, they are checked with what Mullins called “probes” to see if the help is working for that particular student. The “probes” are like mini-tests that last one to four mintues.
“The information obtained from the probes is fed into the computer and the program develops graphs that plot the student’s progress,” she said.
Goals are set for the child and the graph plots whether the child will be able to reach a goal by the end of the school year.
If there are four consecutive dots on the graph that show either that the intervention isn’t working or that the child is advancing then an intervention team meets to decide what to do next.
“If the strategy isn’t working for that child then we can change it,” Miller said. “Of if they have advanced to their grade level then we may decide that intervention is no longer necessary.”
Board member Verlon Prewitt asked if the child began to fall behind again, would they intervene again. Miller said that they would.
The program is used for mainly on the elementary level, but Miller said they also work with sixth graders in reading.
“If you can’t read you can’t do anything else,” Prewitt said.
The board voted to approve the school calendar for the 2010-2011 school year. Included in the calendar are 19 make-up days.
Opening day for staff is planned for Aug. 4 with students coming the next day, Aug. 5. Labor Day, Sept. 6 will be the first holiday followed by fall break scheduled for Oct. 11-15. Classes will not be held on election day, Nov. 2.
School will be out for Thanksgiving Nov. 24-36. Christmas break will be Dec. 22-31. There will be no school on Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Day and Feb. 21, Presidents Day.
Spring break is planned for April 4-8 and the last day for students is set for May 13 with closing day for staff on May 17.
“Of course this is all dependent on the weather, “ Superintendent Bert Hensley said.
Instructional Supervisor Joyce Christopher presented the comprehensive district improvement plan to 2010.
A district planning team was organized to look at each school’s academic strengths and weaknesses, budgets, buildings and grounds and maintenance requests along with other pertinent information.
They then developed a plan to help every child succeed based on five beliefs, ownership of the mission is necessary; the environment is safe and supportive; high quality leadership produce student success; everyone must stay focused on the mission; and parent and community involvement is important for success.
Team members are Ron Abernathy, Shonna Ballard, Tonya Beard, Tim Burkhart, Cindy Callahan, Joyce Christopher, Blain Click, Leslie Cornett, Joe Crawford, Lorretta Cruse, Elke Davis, Teresa Dawes, Jeannie Elkins, Mike Flynn, Leslie Hardy, Michelle Harris, Bert Hensley, Tonya Isaacs, John Isfort, Earl Kirby, Rhonda Neal, Charlotte O’Bryan, Amanda Owens, Jami Price, Lisa Reece, Cindy Robinson, Debbie Rose, Shelia Samples, Margaret Snowden, Margaret Wood and Stacye Woolery.
The team plans to include more rigor, data driven instruction and response to intervention accountability along with opportunities for additional, specific professional development and growth.
“We expect greater progress this year,” Christopher said.
Hensley told the board that 705 students received the H1N1 vaccines at clinics held at all five schools recently. Estill Springs had the most with 191, Estill Middle had 144, Estill High, 134, West Irvine 131 and South Irvine 105. There were also 81 adults vaccinated.
Hensley said he received a letter from the Kentucky Department of Education Workforce Development Cabinet in which they approved the schematic design for the new West Irvine Elementary School. There were 18 items listed that will have to be changed in order to get final approval. Hensley most of them are things the architect will handle.
He also told the board that the district has qualified for a 2009 bond allocation in the amount of $7,350,000 for the new school.
“This should enable us to complete the project,” he said.
Before adjourning, the board elected Patty Hood as the new chairperson and Jami Price as vice-chairperson.