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August 16, 2004

Assessment program approved

School staff and community members will have an opportunity to learn more about the district’s Assessment Program this fall when school administrators present recommendations from the Assessment Leadership Team (ALT). School Board members approved revisions to the Assessment Program that ALT members proposed.

Instructional Technology and Assessment Coordinator Katie Little and Instructional Services Supervisor Margaret Bauman, Ph.D., will present the revised program to all teachers at September faculty meeting. A special board study session is scheduled in October for School Board members and the public. The document:

  • defines effective assessment practices,
  • describes what is assessed — the content knowledge and skills defined in the curriculum
  • identifies components of the assessment program and describes the role that each plays in a balanced program; and
  • establishes common assessment vocabulary.

Staffing reduced despite higher enrollment projection

Staffing in the district will likely be down by four or five full-time equivalency (FTE) positions even though administrators projected last spring that enrollment could increase by about 40 students. The School Board reduced staff to meet state budget contrainsts.

A contingency position was used at the elementary level due to enrollment increases. After adding and shifting staff at the elementary level, Marcy and Woodside ended up with an increase in staff while Maple saw a reduction. Elementary specialists were reduced. A half-time contingency position was used at Willow Springs Learning Center because of high enrollment.

Mentor Program supports new employees

Having veteran staff members and administrators collaborate to support new staff has had a positive impact on the newer staff. The Mentor-New Teacher Program has been successful in acclimating new staff to the curriculum, instructional expectations and school community, according to Bauman.

She reported that new teachers gave high marks to the program when they evaluated its effectiveness last spring. On a 1-to-4 scale, teachers gave ratings of 3.5 to 4.0 for issues related to the program’s goals. The goals include helping staff understand district curriculum, instruction and asssessment expectations, acclimating staff to the Strategic Plan and school site plan, understanding school culture and climate, knowing school operations, providing personal support and encouragement and providing feedback on classroom instruction. Bauman noted that because of the way the district’s programwas established, the district was in a good position to meet the new state certification law, P134, to provide each initial educator with a trained mentor.

Reading intervention program continues to help students

A reading program that began in the district more than 10 years ago is continuing to have a positive impact on students well beyond the year the students receive services. Bauman reported that the Early Reading Empowerment (ERE) Program, which is designed to meet the needs of children experiencing difficulty as they learn to read, served 85 students in 2003-04. First grade teachers assessed students at the beginning of the year to identify those in need of reading support, Bauman explained.

Identified students meet with an ERE-trained teacher for individual or small group instruction, four days a week. The intervention continues until the child “graduates” from ERE — when he or she is reading at the same level as the average student in class.

Bauman noted that professional devleopment has been an importnat compoenent in ERE’s effectiveness. All first grade teachers, reading specialists, ERE support teachers and elementary special education teacher completed a district-sponsored, 6-credit course through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Several media speicalist and second grade teachers also completed the training.

Bauman said that when she hears from teachers about the program they tell her two things. The first is that the training provided wonderful support. Second, the training they recieve has an impact on all students in the classroom, not just those identified for the program.

Bauman presented data from the 2003-04 Wisconsin Reading Comprehension Test that showed 91 percent of students from throughout the district attained proficient and advanced proficient ratings and an impressive 89 percent of ERE students did the same.

Agreement reached with administrative assistants

School Board members approved a three-year agreement (2004-07) for administrative assistants that includes:

  • health insurance concessions;
  • retirement benefits of $10,000 paid toward health insurance for those eleigible for the Wisconsin Retirement System with 15 years of experience in the district; and
  • salary increases that range from 51 to 77 cents per hour yearly.

Personnel matter approved

In personnel matters, the School Board :

  • accepted the resignation of Lannon third grade teacher Tracy Eccles, effective July 29;
  • accepted the retirement request of Marcy fourth grade teacher Paul Peterson, effective July 29; and
  • recalled Templeton world languages and business education teacher Margaret Bauer from layoff.