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May 3, 2011

New gifted, talented delivery gets high marks

 The move to a new way to deliver gifted and talented services to elementary school students has been a success, according to Educational Services and Human Resources Director John Roubik. School Board members received an update on the change that uses a more integrated team approach at the building level and eliminated having a single resource teacher who served students in four schools.

The new model, which was implemented this year, reallocated resources so that a team at each school oversees gifted and talented referrals and determines the most appropriate programming for identified students. Programming could include in-class differentiation, small pull-outs, and in some cases, a differentiated education plan. Classroom teachers work with resource specialists in reading, mathematics, library and writing to regularly monitor progress and modify services as appropriate.

As part of the restructured Spectrum Program, mathematics support teachers saw their roles expand to provide enrichment to students along with existing intervention responsibilities. Resources were reallocated to provide additional hours for mathematics support teachers and mathematics paraprofessional support at three schools.

Roubik said parent and staff feedback after the first year of implementation has been positive.

“Our goal was to make it a more integrated, seamless program, and we have had a very successful year,” Roubik said.

Classroom teachers have indicated that they feel more supported this year, he said. For the most part, parents have been happy with the changes that provided programming options to serve student needs rather than being a program that a child was in or not.

School Board member Lynn Kristensen agreed. She said rather than pulling kids out of the classroom, services were more fluid.

District meets AYP requirements

The district once again passed the federal performance measures as determined in the No Child Left Behind legislation, but what the future holds is uncertain.

Instructional Technology and Assessment Coordinator Katherine Little, Ph.D., provided information about the district’s Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) status. School districts nationwide must meet AYP objectives established as part of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

Each year, school districts must have an 85 percent graduation or attendance rate, 95 percent test participation and reading and mathematics proficiency. Benchmarks were established beginning in the 2001-02 school year with expected reading proficiency at 61 percent and mathematics proficiency at 37 percent. This year the benchmark rose to 80.5 percent in reading and 68.5 percent in mathematics.

By 2013-14, 100 percent of students are expected to be proficient in the two subject areas. Subgroups within a district based on minority, disability, socioeconomic and English Language Learning status are also required to meet the proficiency benchmarks. School Board members expressed concern that as the targets increase it could become difficult for a subgroup of students, such as those with special education needs, to meet the benchmarks.

Little noted that while the district is still in good shape, changes in how graduation rate is calculated could affect AYP status for schools. State officials notified school districts that it will calculate graduation rates based on the number of students who graduate in four years, despite the fact that federal mandates determine that some special education students are entitled to an education until age 21. Schools that serve a high number of special education students until age 21 could see their graduation rates drop as a result.

Hamilton offers a wide range of opportunities to support student learning and success on the state standardized tests. Little provided a written report on those measures that include: a freshman seminar course to improve reading, writing, organization and study skills; specialized high school advisements to meet identified student needs; the Read 180 program for special education students who are two reading levels below their grade; summer school invitational classes for students with disabilities; elementary reading and mathematics resources for students who struggle; professional development that focuses on differentiation and classroom reading and mathematics strategies; and “double doses” of reading and mathematics instruction for elementary students.

New EAP program working well

School Board members are happy with the switch to a new employee assistance program (EAP) plan. The district had used EAP services provided by the National Employees Assistance Service (NEAS) since 2004. The service came with a $7,000 to $8,000 price tag with limited employee usage of the plan. Last year the School Board voted to use services offered by the district’s long-term disability, National Insurance Services. The program offered similar services at no cost to the district. Services include 24-hour, toll-free telephone access to EAP, telephone assessment and counseling, referral to counseling or treatment, liaison with treatment facilities and agencies, dependent care information and specialized consultation for legal and financial concerns.

Consortium participation approved

Participation in two regional consortiums was approved. Pete Ferge, Hamilton associate principal and extended learning opportunities coordinator, recommended continued involvement in the:

  • Carl Perkins consortium offered through CESA #1 which provides the district with grant funding that totaled $13,509 this year; and
  • Waukesha County School-to-Work consortium which assists district in education for employment and strategic planning. The consortium provides districts with grant funding to support co-ops, youth apprenticeships, work experience programs and K-12 career-related initiatives.

Both consortiums provide services at no cost to school districts.

Board officers chosen

School Board members elected the following officers: Gabe Kolesari, president; James Long, vice-president; Michael Hyland, treasurer; and Dawn Van Aacken, clerk.

High school students recognized for financial literacy

High school students in Brenda Savic’s Personal Finance course were recognized for outstanding results in the National Financial Literacy Challenge. The challenge was developed by the Department of Treasury in consultation with economists and the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, Junior Achievement USA, the National Council on Economic Education and the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Sophomore Emily Nettesheim had a perfect score on the 40-question financial knowledge test. In addition to Nettesheim, Hamilton students who received certificates from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Hamilton School Board in honor of their accomplishment were Adam Brown, Jake Grenier, Wade Heckendorf, Corey Last, Ty-Asia Love, Corey Lozano, Tanner Mickler,  Courtney Vaughan, Theodore Wiesneski and Jasmine Williams.

Personnel matters

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the retirement request of high school custodian Michael Oswald effective Aug. 5; and
  • appointed Amy Langlois as Maple Avenue head cook effective July 5.