December 18, 2000

District second-graders will no longer take the TerraNova standardized achievement test after School Board members voted to replace it with district reading and mathematics grade level benchmark assessments.

Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., presented the rationale for eliminating the standardized test.

“There is significant educational research which suggests that standardized tests are not a developmentally appropriate assessment tool for students in the primary grade,” Bauman wrote in her report.

The district’s Assessment Leadership Team developed the Academic Progress Profile, an individual record of student achievement that documents student performances on district benchmark assessments and standardized tests. Assessment Leadership Team members are working on the second strategy of the Strategic Plan that states, “We will implement assessment practices that will ensure continuous progress for each student.”

Currently the state requires the Third Grade Reading Test and the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exams at grades 4, 8 and 10. The district also implements standardized achievement tests in grades 6 and 7. In the 2003-2004 school year, students will be required to take a state high school graduation test unless their parents opt them out of it.

District officials are studying the possibility of adding a fifth grade standardized achievement test.

Move to OmniTech gets positive review

The district’s move to OmniTech Corporation for its computer and network technical support in July has netted good results, according to a report from Marcy Elementary School Principal and District Technology Coordinator Donald Behrens, Ph.D.

After years of steadily improving technical support, the district is now contracting for the equivalent of two full-time technicians. OmniTech was the lowest qualified bidder.

Behrens noted in his written report that the change in service providers and increased staffing resulted in significant improvement including fewer computers out of operation, network problem resolutions, prompt addressing of software issues and shorter lists of concerns.

Village’s easement request goes to voters

The school district will ask voters at a Special Annual Meeting slated for Jan. 30, 2001 to approve the Village of Sussex’s request for an additional 17-foot drainage easement along Maple Avenue Elementary School’s property, contingent on criteria for the storm drainage system.

Business Services Director Bryan Ruud asked village officials to bury storm culverts along the entire property line so that no water is allowed to stand on the school property. Specifically, Ruud requested to have the culvert buried along its entire path so that it drains directly into the creek west of the school without ponding anywhere on school property. He also asked the village to accommodate in its plan a curb cut to allow a future drive and walkway near a previous temporary construction access.

With the drainage design criteria met and approval from district voters, the easement will be granted, according to Ruud.

Slight enrollment increase projected

Enrollment for the 2001-2002 school year will increase by 12 students for an overall increase of .3 percent, according to Educational Services & Human Resources Director Dean Schultz. Staffing projects include nearly five full-time equivalency positions for:

  • addition of high school honors courses — .67;
  • Templeton class size concerns — 2; and
  • unanticipated enrollment increases — 2.

The cost for these positions will add $289,540 to the budget.

Board members heard several other staffing needs previously identified for band, assessment and technology, guidance, gifted and talented, health rooms aids and Marcy clerical aides. Schultz indicated that not all requests could be funded. The School Board will take action on recommendations in January.

December 15, 2000

The Hamilton School Board approved a proposal to add high school honors courses beginning next fall. For some School Board members, the proposal was three years in the making.

School Board member Debbie Briggs said offering honors courses to challenge high ability students was discussed more than three years ago when School Board members asked staff members to address issues of academic rigor. After the implementation of the four-period day, a committee of 14 high school staff members and parents began studying the potential of adding honors courses.

Briggs urged board members to be patient when evaluating the success of initiatives. Next year’s freshmen will be the first to be eligible to take honors courses in communication arts 9, world cultures, integrated science and citizenship. In the fall of 2002, communication arts 10, biology, chemistry and U.S. history will be added.

All the courses lead to Advanced Placement (AP) courses in which students who get a passing score of three or higher earn college credit. Students would not have to take honors courses to take AP courses.

Honors courses, designed for students capable of learning more quickly and at a deeper level, are not necessarily recommended for all collegebound students.

Implementation of the Honors Program will require adding a .67 full-time equivalency position in 2001-2002 and the same in 2002-2003 at a cost of about $40,000 each year. Curriculum development and instructional material expenses will total $9,000 in each year as well.

Strategic Plan update

The district’s 28-member Strategic Plan team met Dec. 1 to hear about the plan’s progress and recommend adaptations. Educational Services and Human Resources Director Dean Schultz summarized the daylong process.

The plan’s four strategies state that the district will:

  • create a staff development plan to implement and support best practices in instructional strategies in every classroom;
  • implement assessment practices that will ensure continuous progress for each student;
    communicate its mission, beliefs and accomplishments to internal and external communities by implementing a public information plan; and
  • actively involve family and community members in the learning process of all students.

The planning team reviewed data about student achievement, demographics, spending and staffing, heard about each school’s site plan and were updated on the accomplishments of each of the district’s four strategies. The planning team adjusted some of the plan’s objectives, used to measure progress, and recommended:

  • emphasizing the comprehensive nature of Hamilton High School and the accomplishments and expectations at all the schools in the public information plan;
  • reconvening strategy No. 4 to develop and communicate the role of parents in increasing student achievement;
  • gathering additional information on post high school apprenticeship plans;
  • clarifying for teachers the collection of data regarding rubric use;
  • developing two objectives concerning the AP and ACT tests;
  • communicating the commitment of local control by writing a letter to the Kettl Commission; and
  • requiring sophomores to take the PLAN test and eighth-graders to take the EXPLORE test with staffing and funding to support the requirement.

After developing plans to implement the Strategic Plan team’s recommendations, the Strategic Plan will go before the School Board in January for approval.

Special meeting slated Jan. 30

The School Board approved a resolution to establish a special annual meeting Jan. 30 to seek community approval that would allow Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church to have access to their property through district owned property on Silver Spring Road. The easement would also allow access to Templeton Middle School as well.

In personnel matters the School Board approve a leave of absence for Hamilton social studies teacher Kathy Lynch for second semester and accepted the resignation of Hamilton cleaner Ernie Jaekl.