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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 21, 2014

New London schools hope to improve test scores next year

May 21, 2013

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

NEW LONDON — Next school year, the New London Community School District hopes to improve proficiency in reading at Clark Elementary School, math in sixth grade and science at the high school level.

The New London School Board met in regular session on Monday night and approved the following goals for the 2013-2014 school year:

• Decrease the level of low SES (socioeconomic status) students in grades 3-5 who are not proficient at reading by 25 percent. This translates to bringing four of the sixteen students who are not proficient to the level of proficient.

• Decrease the number of low SES students at the sixth grade level who are not proficient by 50 percent. This translates to six out of the 12 students at the sixth grade level.

• Increase the number of high school students proficient in science by 10 percent.

These goals are referenced in the district’s annual progress report for the 2012-2013 school year. When making the goals last year, Curriculum Director Allison Lair said they were not sure what the new Iowa assessment would entail, and the goals the district set were not quite appropriate and the district did not meet them.

“We were not sure at all when we set our goals last spring what we would be looking at as far as testing in this next year,” said Lair. “We’ve learned a lot over the course of this last year, and we learned that the way we set our goals probably would have been more appropriate for the old Iowa assessment.”

“So we found a way to sort of re-frame the goals for this year that will make more sense,” she continued.

These new goals address the areas of concern for the district.

At Clark Elementary, low SES students and students with IEPs (individualized education programs) in third through fifth grade had reading levels below the state level.

“Our proficiency is almost 80 percent, and that’s well and good, but we want it to be even higher, so we are looking at some of the things that we’re doing with reading, trying to be more consistent at the elementary level,” said Todd Palmatier, Clark Elementary principal.

Next year, the plan is to increase the guided reading time built into the schedule, and there will be a half hour at every grade level.

“It’s not a shock that the more you read, the more your scores go up, so we want to build that more into the day,” said Palmatier. He noted that the school does a pretty good job of this in kindergarten through third grade, but it needs more work at the fourth and fifth grade levels.

In the middle school, the sixth grade math skills as they were well below the state average.

“Sixth grade was one of our levels of concern that we want to work on for this next year,” said Lair. “We know that every year when we get kids from fifth into sixth grade they make a big dip. It’s not just in our school; it’s in many different school districts across the country.”

Lair noted that the students will be targeted during the scheduled intervention time to target the students who really need the extra help in math skills.

At the high school, the district hopes to increase the number of proficient students by 10 percent.

“Our science scores have always been traditionally high,” said Scott Kracht, high school principal. “We’re not satisfied with that. We want to be the cream of the crop.”

Kracht noted that the science department has started to look at all of the skills required by the state and national standards to make sure students can complete the expectations. The goal is to keep the scores high but move on to an advanced level.

In other business, the board:

• Heard presentations on the recent sixth grade campout, the IXL math program and the middle school proficiency grading program.

• Awarded Anderson Erickson the milk contract for the 2013-2014 school year. Anderson Erickson is the current milk provider and was the low bid. The other bid was from Prairie Farms.

•Approved the 2013-2014 master contract with the New London Education Association.

• Accepted a donation from SVPA Architects for $1,250. Superintendent Steve McAllister explained that this is an in kind contribution to settle issues with the apoxy floor in the Tier I infrastructure improvements. SVPA is also waiving over $2,000 in fees.

• Approved the following appointments: Jerry Wilhelm, half route bus driver; Christine Selby, high school 1/8 physical education teacher; Joseph Garvey, high school industrial arts teacher; Mark Chiri, assistant high school football coach; Aaron Brown, assistant high school football coach; Evan Pilch, volunteer high school baseball coach; Jon Brown, volunteer high school baseball coach; Joel Prottsman, volunteer high school softball coach; Damon Loyd, volunteer middle school baseball coach.

• Accepted the following resignations: Tamika Rodgers, kitchen worker; James Missel, industrial arts teacher; Paula Bliven, middle school volleyball coach; Mark Chiri, middle school football coach; Bobbi Huebner, K-12 music teacher.

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