West Carroll Reviews
Academic Achievements, Discusses Possible Future Changes
By MICHAEL MILLER | For The Prairie Advocate News
THOMSON – The West Carroll School Board received an update on the district’s academic performance, at the November 7th meeting in Thomson.
The meeting was attended by Board members Mike Highland (President), Tim Atherton (Vice President), Beverly Kilpatrick, John Brigham, Jerry Anderson, Mark Klein, and Dawn Rath. Also in attendance were Superintendent Craig Mathers, and Principals Jeannette Ashby, Julie Katzenberger, Pam Delp, and Bob Lamb, as well as Assistant High School Principal Clint Cowman and Recording Secretary/Business Office Manager Sandra Aude.
Mathers noted correspondence from District bus driver Frank O’Malley, who thanked the district for granting him an award of $200.00 for his perfect attendance for 2011-2012. Mathers acknowledged O’Malley’s fine work.
Ashby noted some dates of upcoming events for the Primary/Intermediate Schools, with the second and third grade Christmas program being held on Monday, December 10th, the Kindergarten and 1st grade program being held on Tuesday, December 11th, and the 4th and 5th grade program being held on Thursday, December 13th.
Katzenberger reported on the 1st annual Middle School Career Exploration Day, which featured 17 speakers from different fields addressing the students and answering their questions about their various professions. Three 50 minute sessions were held by each presenter. She thanked all of these individuals and also the office staff and custodians for their help with this program. She noted that on December 10th, Camfel Productions will be presenting a three-screen assembly called “The Pledge” which will focus on valuing others and resisting pressures to indulge in alcohol, drugs, bullying and other negative social behavior.
Lamb said that based on returned surveys, the High School is continuing to plan for the night of Sunday, May 12th for High School graduation ceremonies. The principal had a few dates of his own to report, including the High School Winter Program on Tuesday, December 4th at 6:30 PM. He also said that on November 14th the West Carroll education Foundation will review $95,000.00 in grant applications. Students of the month included Brianna Kampmeier, Haley Appel, Dylan Williams and Haley Blundering.
Lamb also discussed www.mycollegeoptions.org, a website with resources for high school students looking to go on to college. Based on results of a survey given to the seniors, this site helps match a students needs and interests with a college that meets these criteria. Scholarship information is also available.
Cowman spoke about the opening of Winter sports, with the season opener for Girls’ Basketball at Stockton on the 13th of November, the Boys’ Basketball Oregon Thanksgiving Tournament from November 19th to November 24th, and the season opener for Wrestling on November 20th at Fulton.
Field said he was very impressed with student questions at Career Day, and also that he’d attended Parent-Teacher Conferences answering questions from parents about the new Skyward Home Access accounts.
Superintendent’s Report: Sauk Valley Proposal
Mathers congratulated the Primary School for having the highest monthly attendance in the district.
He also reported on a proposal to West Carroll from Sauk Valley College. West Carroll, the superintendent noted, is at the far reaches of their region and currently the district isn’t getting much out of the tax dollars that Sauk Valley takes out of the region. Their idea was to transform one of West Carroll’s classrooms into a dual credit college classroom, taking care of furniture, technology, and screens. Mathers said he inquired whether or not this could be accomplished by January 3rd and the response was “yes.” The current thinking is to take Kathy Stines’ classroom for this purpose, which would allow a course being taught at Sauk Valley to be projected to West Carroll through a camera. Lamb said that Sauk Valley has a grant in place that will cut the lost of such classes in half.
The superintendent also reported that two West Carroll students had been diagnosed with salmonella, but that after public health officials had “thoroughly scoured” the building and found no trace whatsoever of the virus, and deemed it completely safe.
The Board approved a motion to approve the agreement between the District and the Village of Thomson transferring ownership of the “Thomson Melon Days” property and adjoining baseball diamonds to West Carroll.
It also voted to award Star Insurance the bid for the District’s Workman’s Compensation Insurance for the 2012-2013 school year. The company submitted a bid of $50,576.00.
Academic Achievement Presentation
A very lengthy presentation of the various district schools’ academic achievements followed, with each principal presenting data on test scores for the 2012 school year, providing context and analysis on those results as well as future plans to address areas of need. Mathers opened the presentation by reporting that about 98 percent of high schools in Illinois did not make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) this year, and said the presentation was to address what the schools were doing well and where there were opportunities for improvement.
The test score summaries were based on ISAT/PSAE scores. (Adequate Yearly Progress is “A statewide accountability system mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 which requires each state to ensure that all schools and districts make Adequate Yearly Progress” (source: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ay/).
The Primary School made AYP for math, but not for reading. Likewise, the Middle School made AYP for math, but not reading. The High School did not make AYP for either math or reading.
Mathers commented that one critical factor in the analysis of test scores is economic status, and to bolster this argument, he reported that while last year the percentage of students on “free and reduced” status for meals was fully 61 percent, this year that same category started out at 68 percent and now stands at 71 percent.
The Primary School report listed several potential action items intended to improve education for its students for the coming year. Common Core ELA Standards will be explored and begun to be implemented, as well as continuing Response to Intervention procedures. (More information about Common Core Standards may be found at http://www.ccsso.org/Resources/Programs/The_Common_Core_State_Standards_Initiative.html), analyzing test data, taking part in math and reading workshops, the emphasis of ISAT preparation throughout the year and aligning lesson plans and instruction by grade level. Other potential strategies include allowing 80 minutes for math instruction compared to the state average of 59, incorporating a math intervention program, and using Accelerated Reader and Reading A-Z for reading support. Ashby’s report noted that the Primary School received an Academic Improvement Award for 2010-2011 and was an Illinois Spotlight School in both 2010 and 2011.
Strategies and plans for the Middle School to continue improving math education included new textbooks, co-teaching, faculty math improvement meetings, utilizing math focused AIMSweb Universal screening and using RtI class with certified math teachers with progress monitoring with interventions twice a week. For reading, the School listed a few potential improvement strategies as well, including faculty English language arts common core meetings, teaching 88 minute blocks of language/literature, celebrating reading in various ways and the purchase of e-readers to use e-books.
Lamb noted in his review of the High School academics that while that school’s math scores were below the state average, it’s reading scores were above it. He also spoke about the school’s 15-20 percent “transient rate” with kids moving in and out of the district, further complicating the job of educators. Some of the recommendations for the High School included an emphasis on the core curriculum, weighted grades, increasing the math requirement from three to four years, potentially instituting a “no pass/no play” policy wherein any “F” grades could disqualify a student from participation in sports. He also discussed the notion of requiring seven total classes with a required study hall, and an extended school day.
In discussion of the 2013 Tax Levy, Mathers reported that the District’s EAV (Estimated Assessment Value) was going up 2 percent and would likely stay at 2 percent. He added that the tax rate for this year was $5.70, and would likely remain at $5.70. He said he’d recommend under levying again, and that a Truth in Taxation Hearing would be required should this model be accepted. This recommendation was accepted by the Board and the Public Hearing related to it was set for December 19th, at 5:30 pm.
The Board agreed to designate the head secretary at each building as Activity Account Custodians, per recommendation and discussion at the recent District Audit.
Katzenberger reported that 71 percent of those taking the Parent Teacher Conference surveys said that they strongly agreed with the idea of an eighth grade graduation promotion event.