USD 410 will disregard current assessments

News editor

At the recommendation of Superintendent Steve Noble, USD 410 Board of Education voted Monday to have teachers focus on the upcoming Common Core State Standards rather than the current state assessments.

The district will administer the assessments as required by law, but it will not give practice exams, teach to the assessments, or worry about the results of the current assessments.

Noble and board members signed a statement titled “USD 410 Moving Forward: Staying focused on common core instruction throughout the state testing season (January – May 2013).”

The statement says the district is committed to the Common Core standards, which it believes does a better job measuring essential skills and knowledge.

“We also believe that to achieve these skills requires an unwavering focus on instruction to the CCSS,” the statement says.

“The spring’s state assessments are aligned to the ‘old’ state standards; yet, we are committed to not waiver from our focus on CCSS,” the statement continues. “We realize this may negatively affect the results of our performance on the upcoming state assessments this spring, which are aligned to the ‘old’ state standards.”

The statement says the signatories will not refer to results of the current state assessments for 2013 in any manner. Noble and all seven board members, Eddie Weber, Gary Andrews, Deb Geis, Rod Koons, Chad Nowak, Mark Rooker, and Joe Sechrist, signed the document Monday night. It also has spaces for building principals Greg Brown, Max Heinrichs, and Evan Yoder to sign, as well as faculty members. The principals and faculty members were not present when the document was approved.

Facilities, transportation staffing changes

The board accepted Keith Goossen’s resignation as facilities and transportation director and appointed him as head of maintenance. Goossen said he was looking forward to doing more maintenance work and not supervising others.

“I would like to make a change,” he said. “I enjoy fixing things.”

The board voted to eliminate the facilities and transportation director position and instead advertise for a facilities and maintenance secretary. The secretary will not have supervisory duties over custodians or bus drivers, which will be left to the building principals and superintendent.

Noble calculated that the district would save about $20,000 per year if the secretary was hired at $9 per hour. But board members expressed concerns that $9 per hour wouldn’t be enough to attract someone who would do a good job with all of the responsibilities of the position.

“Find the best person, and find out what it takes,” Weber said.

Goossen’s reassignment was approved after a 45-minute closed session for personnel matters that also included evaluation of Noble’s work as superintendent. After the closed session, the board also approved contracts for Malinda Just and Don Ratzlaff as assistant track coaches and a work agreement for Nancy Hofer as an English as a second language aide.

ACT update

Heinrichs presented information about the ACT college readiness exam. Earlier this year, Hillsboro High School received results saying the class of 2012’s average score was 22.4, the lowest for the school in several years. But several students forgot to include their school code on the test. With those results included, the average score rose to about 23.3, Heinrichs said.

Results from the Explore and PLAN preparatory tests suggest the scores are likely to remain low for another year, but then bounce back to some of the highest levels in a decade with the class of 2014.

Science has traditionally had the lowest scores of the four subject areas on the test at HHS. Heinrichs said that may be related to the fact that Kansas hasn’t had science assessments over the years.

In other business:

  • Heinrichs reported that 33 of 172 students — 19.2 percent — at HHS have at least one D or F grade. That is down substantially compared to 2010, when 55 percent of students had at least one D or F and 25 percent had at least one F. Only nine students — 5.2 percent — currently have an F, and none of those have a failing grade in more than one class. Heinrichs said the academic detention policy implemented in the interim has helped, as has just having a good crop of students currently.
  • Hillsboro Middle School is seeing more academic and behavioral issues than last year, according to a report from Brown. The school has more students with troubled family situations and more receiving free or reduced-price lunches. Meanwhile, counseling at the school has been reduced in availability because of funding reductions.
  • Yoder announced that Hillsboro Elementary School received a $1,000 Healthy Habits for Life grant for Bike Club and the school garden.
  • A well and pump at the athletic facility shared with Tabor College is being replaced at a cost of about $17,000. The previous well started running low in fall 2011.
  • A committee on educator evaluation, composed of Noble, principals, and three teachers, will present a recommendation in February of a system for evaluating teachers, principals, and possibly the superintendent. Kansas requires that new evaluation systems include a statement of philosophy, at least three levels of quality (such as doesn’t meet expectations, meets expectations, and exceeds expectations), and multiple valid measures including student growth, be conducted on a regular basis, provide clear, timely, and useful feedback, and state how evaluations will be used for personnel decisions.

The board will have a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 19 to review bids for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning work on the schools. Bids will be opened at 2 p.m. Monday at the district office.

 

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