ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ALEEN RATZLAFF
The year 2013-14 looms for educators in Unified School District 410. That’s the mandated target for meeting the requirement in No Child Left Behind: All students must be proficient in reading and math.
“In seven years, 100 percent of our students in fourth grade must be proficient in reading and math when they graduate,” Superintendent Gordon Mohn told school board members at Monday’s regular meeting.
He reported highlights from presentations he’s made this past month to teaching staffs in each building about ways in which instruction can change to help “close the achievement gap.”
The achievement gap, Mohn said, is the rate in which reading and math scores will need to continue to improve to meet the 2013-14 deadline.
“We need to put some teeth in our assessments,” Mohn said about forming a teacher/administrative task force that would investigate the Measures of Academic Performance.
MAP is a student assessment and diagnostic tool that would complement the feedback educators receive student scores on the Kansas State assessments.
Mohn asked the board to endorse some of the proposed changes, including the following:
— adopting a schedule for curriculum review and materials selection.
— endorsing a study requiring exit projects at grades five, eight and 12.
Exit projects are individualized and give students opportunities to demonstrate self-directed learning in specific areas of interest.
— supporting the development of individual educational plans for students who do not perform at grade level in reading and math.
— supporting reallocation of resources to meet the needs of students who do not perform at grade level in reading and math.
— supporting special courses for students in grades seven through 12 who do not perform at grade level in reading and math.
— considering making performance at grade level in reading and math a requirement for graduating from Hillsboro High School.
“I anticipate this will be a year-long project,” Mohn said about putting such changes into effect.
The board endorsed Mohn continuing to develop aspects of these items.
In another topic related to assessment, Hillsboro Middle School principal Corey Burton reviewed a PowerPoint presentation he’ll share with students to set target scores for the assessments.
“We’ll plan a celebration of games and activities if they do well,” Burton said.
According to Dale Honeck, principal at Hillsboro High School, students began state assessments this week. He also announced plans to include a new math courses-Algebra 1.5 and Geometry 1.5. The three-semester courses would increase the flexibility in teaching math to students with different abilities.
Hillsboro Elementary School principal Evan Yoder announced his intention to distribute a survey to fourth-grade parents about finding more time for teacher instruction in the classroom.
One option would be changing the current band schedule, possibly having band as an after-school activity.
“We’re going to look at a few options,” Yoder said.
Board member Eddie Weber raised questions about the impact of CHUMS, an after-school mentoring program, and whether additional bus routes would be needed.
Yoder said he hoped distributing the survey would identify options as well as conflicts.
Mohn presented progress in planning for preschool services in 2006-07 at Hillsboro Elementary School. Partners in this effort are USD 410, McPherson/ Marion County Head Start and Marion County Special Education Cooperative Early Childhood.
“The goal is to create two 15-student sessions of half-day preschool at HES,” Mohn said.
The board members, who were meeting in the art room at HES, toured the room currently used by Head Start and one currently shared by Keli Chisholm and Linda Peters.
The proposal would locate the preschool in the present art room and allow for adequate classroom space for students taught by Chisholm and Peters.
In other business the board:
— agreed to interview two architectural firms in April regarding facility improvements in the district. The firms are Howard and Helmer of Wichita and PKHLS Architecture of El Dorado.
— accepted the resignation of Tim Kilgore, HHS agriculture education instructor, effective at the end of the school year. Kilgore has accepted a position in the Blue Valley Randolph school district.
— accepted the resignation of Tisha Bielefeld, Parents as Teacher educator, effective June 30.
— approved purchase of 22 laptop computers and 34 desktop computers from Gateway Computers through the state bid list at the cost of $2,338.
— discussed the lease agreement for Marion-Florence USD 408 facilities under consideration by the MCSEC board. The cost for the 2006-07 school year would be $50,000.
Previously, the lease has been about $3,000 annually, but major maintenance work is needed.
“We need to take a good, hard look if Florence is the place to stay,” Mohn said, adding that having the MCSEC facility located near a current school, whether Marion or Hillsboro, may have some advantages.