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December 6, 2005

WKCE costs to district outlined

Just what are the costs of the implementing Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE) in the Hamilton School District?

Educational Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., provided School Board members with answers about the time, money and resources that were devoted to the standardized testing mandated as part of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. She began by acknowledging that the WKCE — administered to 2,166 students in grades 3-8 and 10 — provides some “very important achievement data about our students.”

The impact of WKCE testing on students is lost instructional time, Bauman said. Taking the pre-test and test will cost students between five hours for third-graders and up to 9.5 hours for eighth-graders. This does not include time needed to prepare students for the tests, distributing and collecting test materials or giving test directions.

Significant responsibilities were added to teachers and administrators who held test prep sessions, developed testing schedules, were trained on test procedures and approved accommodations, proctored tests and developed systems for test security.

Reading specialists, administrators, administrative assistants and paraprofessionals checked the accuracy and affixed test labels, sorted tests by classroom, distributed materials and prepared tests for shipment. Reading specialists also proctored tests and helped to prepare students by offering test-taking strategies sessions.

High school guidance counselors estimated they spent 40 hours and middle school counselors reported it was 200 hours on testing matters.

Special education staff members helped 25 students take the time-intensive alternate assessment, identified and documented accommodations needed for each student and participated in in-services.

Dollars spent on WKCE testing in Hamilton added up to more than $6,500 including $1,350 for locked storage cabinets at the elementary schools to insure test security and $4,670 for substitute pay to accommodate small group and special education testing.

Bauman noted that the district shipped more than 2,200 pounds of tests – a cost borne by the state. More than $5 million is the estimated tab to the state for its responsibilities in implementing the WKCE.

Student identification system explained

Bauman reported on two other alphabet-soup developments resulting from NCLB.

The Wisconsin Student Number Locator System (WSLS) and the Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES) were developed to collect and disaggregate data to meet state and federal requirements.

WSLS assigns a unique 10-digit state ID number to each student in a Wisconsin public school. The number follows students when they move from school or district.

ISES allows district to enter data into a state database that provides the Department of Public Instruction with information for reports. It also is used to generate WKCE test labels, disaggregate data to determine if district have met the NCLB-required “adequate yearly progress” and determine English Language Learner progress in English acquisition.

Bauman reported that DPI has put in place several security measures to protect student privacy.

Olson brings Kagy Award to Hamilton

Hamilton High School teacher Byron Olson was recognized his critical role in developing the Graphic Arts Program, which was presented with the 2005 Frederick D. Kagy Education Award. Awarded by the Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, the Kagy Award recognizes an exemplary middle school, high school or community college graphic communication program that demonstrates strong instructional leadership, a high degree of professionalism, innovational technique and promotion of the graphic communications industries.

Olson was identified as providing leadership for the program’s remarkable success in preparing students for careers in commercial printing. In his 31 years at Hamilton, Olson taught more than 200 students who went on to work in the graphic arts industry.

Because of the high quality reputation of its graphic arts program, Hamilton High School was the site chosen for the historic signing of the 2 + 2 + 2 program between high schools, technical colleges and the University of Wisconsin-Stout. The program transitions students smoothly from high school into 2- and 4-year college programs or directly into the workplace.

Nominators identified that Hamilton’s program provides students with a solid foundation of the basics of printing while continually exposing them to the industry’s latest technology.

Principal David Furrer commended Olson for the hard work and positive interaction he has with students.

“Thank you for bringing the Kagy Award to Hamilton High School,” Furrer said.

Olson noted that when he attended a Chicago conference as a young teacher in the 1970s he was randomly assigned to room with another individual who happened to be Kagy. Olson showed School Board members the 26-pound lithoprint stone received in San Francisco in November. The award was established in 1992 to honor the distinguished career of Kagy, an Illinois State University professor emeritus.

Willow Spring site plan approved

School Board members approved the Willow Springs site plan. Principal and program support John Vitale provided a report about the school that educates 4-year-old kindergartners. He noted that about 75 percent of kindergarten through third grade students in the district four elementary schools participated in the Willow Springs program.

Parent approval ratings in surveys and volunteer participation are high, Vitale reported.

School Board member Deborah Briggs complimented the staff.

“You have great have people on staff that care so much about what they are doing,” Briggs said. “Four-year-old kindergarten is not compulsory education, so parents do not need to send their children. If parents were not happy with the program, I don’t think you would see the success that you have.”

District Strategic Plan updated

School Board members approved the updates to the district Strategic Plan which was reviewed Nov. 15. The strategies include:

We will foster learning environments that nurture social and emotional development to ensure maximum achievement for each child.

We will ensure that professional development improves student learning.

We will use the results of student assessments and other performance-related data to ensure continuous progress for each child.

We will enhance our communication plan to promote understanding, support and involvement of families, the community and staff in fulfilling our mission.

Personnel matters

In personnel matters, the School Board appointed Laura Wagner as the Hamilton High School administrative assistant effective Dec. 19.