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August 20, 2007

New grading principles incorporated
After two years of study, the Hamilton School District has incorporated a new set of grading principles and guidelines into its District Assessment Program. The Assessment Leadership Team (ALT) looked at best practices in grading, developed staff training sessions and recommended changes to middle and high school report cards. In addition, an Elementary Report Card Committee met this summer and will recommend revisions to the elementary report card.

Instructional Services Supervisor Margaret Bauman, Ph.D., presented a written and oral report on grading initiatives.

“The purpose of grades is to communicate student academic performance to students, parents and other stakeholders,” the report stated. “Grading practices influence student motivation, risk-taking, creativity and confidence.”

Grading guidelines in the report included:

  • Assessments are based on standards-based learning goals that students and parents understand. Performance on these assessments determines a student’s grade.
  • Other performance indicators such as attendance, effort, behavior and work ethic should be communicated in a variety of ways.
  • Formative assessments are for learning and summative assessments evaluate learning. Summative assessments are more important in determining an academic grade.
  • Numbers should be “crunched” carefully to reliably and accurately reflect academic progress in meeting standards.

Bauman reported that training helped teacher gain a deeper knowledge about grading and its impact on learning. All staff participated in an introductory workshop on grading, and individual schools are continuing to study and discuss grading issues.

Three rubrics were added to middle and high school report cards to provide more information about factors that influence student achievement. They are the student’s participation in class, effort and completion of homework and assignments.

Revisions to the elementary school report cards will be formatted and presented at a future School Board meeting.

ERE report given
Bauman also gave an update on another program that has been in place in the district since 1994. The Early Reading Empowerment (ERE) Program is an early intervention program for students experiencing reading difficulties. First grade teachers assess students at the beginning of the year to identify students in need of reading support. Students then work with an ERE-trained teacher for individual or small-group instruction four days a week.

In 2006-07, 85 students – or 27 percent of first-graders – were served. ERE was also part of the invitational summer school program with 44 students who participated this year.

Bauman presented longitudinal achievement data from 2006-07 Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exams that showed the performance of students who had been provided ERE services as first-graders. The charts showed the reading achievement gap narrowed among ERE “graduates” as time went on.

Goals approved
School Board members approved 2007-08 board and superintendent goals. They are to:

  • develop resources and implement strategies and initiatives to enhance student achievement;
  • implement the district strategic plan;
  • promote a positive school image;
  • promote and expand relationships with the community;
  • monitor district enrollments and community growth; and
  • update School Board policies and position descriptions.

Board takes personnel action
In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of speech-language specialist Anne Mundt; Woodside fifth grade teacher Jennifer Hetzel; Templeton paraprofessional Diane Peterson; and Hamilton paraprofessional Karen Beyer.
  • appointed Heather Michalak-Condon as a Templeton cognitive disabilities teacher; Heidi Consiglio as a part-time Special Services administrative assistant; Mindy Pilecky as a replacement Woodside first grade teacher; Eileen Swierczek as a Maple Avenue paraprofessional; Allison Serceki as a part-time Maple Avenue Early Reading Empowerment teacher; Angela Poulsen as a Maple Avenue, Woodside and Willow Springs speech-language specialist; Amanda Rector as a part-time Lannon and Woodside art teacher; Jamie Leton as a part-time Willow Springs early childhood teacher; Richard Schild as a Hamilton student supervisor; Patricia Kitscha as a part-time Maple Avenue Early Reading Empowerment teacher; Rose Frohna as a part-time Woodside music teacher; Julie Ronan as a Woodside fifth grade replacement teacher; Kelsi Miller as a Hamilton administrative assistant; and Kristin Netzel-Muehlenbach as a part-time Templeton speech-language specialist; and
  • modified the contracts of Hamilton, Templeton and Maple Avenue English as a Second Language teacher Jeanna Tinus from half- to full-time; Lannon ERE teacher Marianne Baker from 45 to 50 percent; Maple Avenue ERE teacher Donna Uselmann from 60 to 70 percent; and Lannon ERE teacher Nancy Lorenz from 60 to 70 percent.