April 4, 2006

District to move ahead with MAP assessment

The on-line assessment system that the district has been piloting for two years will be used as the benchmark test at several grade levels based on positive staff reviews.

Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman and Instructional Technology and Assessment Coordinator Katie Little reported on the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) evaluation to the School Board. The School Board accepted their recommendation to use MAP in third and fourth grade for mathematics and in fifth through eighth grade in mathematics, reading and language skills. At the high school level, it will be used only for full-year algebra courses. MAP was designed for full-year schedules, but most of the high school courses run one semester.

The district began using MAP as its benchmark assessment in the fall of 2004. It was piloted in mathematics in grades 2 and 3, but staff quickly concluded that it was not appropriate for second-graders. This year, third-graders at two elementary schools took the mathematics test and students in grades 5-9 were tested in mathematics, reading and language usage. In addition, high school students in full-year ninth grade algebra used MAP.
Little noted that teachers used MAP to identify skill levels within the class, appropriate instruction for special education students and students who need gifted and talented programming or enrichment.

The cost to continue MAP assessment in 2006-07 will be $23,520 for 1,960 students. MAP replaced Terra Nova testing at grades 6 and 7, and the $12,762 expense of that discontinued test is used to provide MAP services.

District has success in collecting unpaid school fees
After implementing new strategies to collect outstanding student debt, the class of 2005 had the lowest percentage of students who owed fees or fines. Less than one percent of the class had an outstanding debt compared to more than six percent for the previous year.

The district changed its collection procedures last year. Students are reminded about their unpaid debt twice each year and asked to pay it off. If they don’t, the district turns it over to a collection agency on an annual basis. In the past, students were not reminded about their debt as often, and uncollected debts of only those who graduated went to the collection agency.

Some 19 students from the class of 2004 had a combined debt of $2,272 compared to only two students from the class of 2005 who owned a combined total of $185.

Summer workshops approved
Summer curriculum projects and professional development initiatives were approved. School Board members agreed to spend $28,346 to develop curriculum and assessments, and train staff members.

Bauman presented the lists of summer curriculum projects and professional development activities. Many of them were related to school site plans.

Templeton site plan update approved
Templeton Principal Patricia Polczynski reported on her school’s site plan. The tactics for the five-year plan, originally approved in 2003, state that students will:

  • increase writing proficiency demonstrating understanding of curricular concepts;
  • demonstrate increased engagement and progress in differentiated needs; and
  • experience social and emotional growth through relevant, focused and developmental opportunities ensuring maximum achievement for all students.

Implementation of the first and third tactics began in the fall, but the second tactic was put on hold because Site Plan committee decided that increased engagement may occur when the other two tactics are achieved.

Six-Trait Writing was implemented across all curricular areas and staff members participated in multiple staff development sessions. All students took writing assessments and communication arts teacher holistically scored their writing. Staff also were trained in critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Polczynski noted that holistic writing scores for Templeton students taking the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam increased from 5.3 in 2003-04 to 5.7 in 2004-05. The number of seventh-grader at the proficient level on the district’s writing sample increased from 49 percent to 65 percent. Students increased two points in all grade levels from the fall of 2004 to spring of 2005 in the MAP assessment.

The third tactic has been addressed through a sixth grade track meet, seventh grade house participation in low ropes and team-building activities, a character-building retreat for all eighth-graders and the placement of staff -made banners on students lockers.

Polczynski pointed to student survey responses that indicated accomplishments in the third tactic.

Mathematics textbooks approved
After approving new mathematics instructional material for grades K-5 one year ago, the School Board followed up by approving textbook adoption for sixth grade mathematics that will extend the program.

The 18-member district Mathematics Committee recommended using “Everyday Mathematics” last spring as the district’s elementary program because it:

  • aligns with the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for mathematics;
  • addresses the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics (NCTM) Best Practice in Mathematics Instruction standards;
  • includes quality teacher resources; and
  • provides material for communicating with families.

At the time, the committee also recommended that a standards-based program be implemented at the sixth grade level. After reviewing various programs, the middle school mathematics department recommended using “Everyday Mathematics” as well. The department continues to review seventh and eighth grade programs to be implemented in 2007 and 2008 that will be compatible with the K-6 program.

Secondary schools given OK to continue accreditation
The School Board authorized participation in the North Central Accreditation (NCA) process at Templeton Middle School for a cost of $675 and at Hamilton for a cost of $775. The accreditation process helps schools focus on school improvements related to student outcomes. It aligns with the district’s site planning process and responds to the public’s demand for greater accountability. Hamilton has been a part of the NCA accreditation process since 1966 and Templeton since 1997.

Staff, students recognized
School Board members recognized staff members and students for outstanding accomplishments.

Templeton Principal Patricia Polczynski was honored for being selected the state’s Principal of the Year at the middle level.

Members of the varsity and junior varsity Hamilton Chess Club, including advisor Timothy Moeller, were recognized for their outstanding performance as conference champions and successful showing at state competition.

Personnel business
In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Willow Springs speech and language specialist Christine Raabe and Maple Avenue special services paraprofessional Tracey Stanislawski effective at the end of the school year; and
  • appointed Shirley Hall as a Marcy special services paraprofessional, Laura DeStefanis as part-time Hamilton fitness education and health teacher, Nikolai Yasko as a part-time Hamilton communications arts teacher; and Lindsey Wehr as a part-time Hamilton German teacher.