|School board hears from principals|
by Jacob Lane · June 19, 2013
The school board on Monday listened to end-of-the-year presentations from three principals within the West Liberty Community School District.
Principal Missy Johnson of the Early Learning Center began the night by discussing GOLD, a new child assessment program put to use this year by the ELC.
Typical assessments regularly test children in areas such as math and reading; however, GOLD allows teachers to observe students in action and give scores based on performance. These scores are compared to the standards set up by the state.
According to Johnson, results seemed sporadic because this was the first year the ELC implemented the assessments. However, Johnson believes Iowa will begin mandating schools to use the system, as well as improving the way it works.
“I can see the state making us use GOLD in the future, so I’m glad we’ve already had a year to get used to it,” she told the board. “There’s a lot of leeway in what proficient is in GOLD, so now we need to see how this connects with our other assessments.”
According to 2013/2014 GOLD results, 20 percent of ELC children were reading at grade level or higher in the fall, but the percentage jumped to 95 in the spring. In math, 20 percent of students were proficient in the fall while 78 percent were in the spring.
Johnson also commented on the six children planning to repeat kindergarden, and the 27 children planning to repeat preschool next year.
“It goes up and down, but we’re seeing a trend where parents keep their children an extra year in preschool because of high expectations in their development,” she said.
She believes parents see the high criteria expected of their children and respond by holding them back a grade to give them a boost.
“Preschool is like kindergarten, the expectations are up,” she added.
Principal Nancy Gardner of the elementary school talked about the success of the science program in the school. Called interactive science, it’s a much more personal approach to the subject.
“The consensus from the faculty, teachers and students is that they all really enjoyed it because it has a lot of hands on experience,” she said.
Materials are provided to the classroom, resulting in more scientific experiments and communication between students and teachers.
Gardner also discussed the successes and failures of students on the yearly Iowa Assessments, a test that examines their literacy and math skills.
Reading proficiency dropped 7 percent in third-grade, 5 percent in fourth-grade, and stayed the same in fifth-grade. However, proficiency in math raised 8 percent in third-grade, 11 percent in fourth-grade, and 5 percent in fifth-grade.
In response, the elementary school will extend the “beyond the bell” learning program, which focuses on raising proficiency in struggling students who are willing to attend after school.
Principal Vicki Vernon of the middle school discussed the success of a new detention policy in reducing unexcused tardies.
For every three unexcused tardies the student receives after-school detention, at 15 unexcused tardies the student is given in school suspension.
“We had some students that always came late into school, so we told them one more time and you’ll get in-school detention. All of a sudden they stopped,” she said.
She also discussed middle school performance on their yearly Iowa Assessment tests.
In reading comprehension there was expected growth according to the state in 59 of 95 sixth-grade students, 82 of 102 seventh-grade students, and 69 of 92 eighth-grade students.
In math there was expected growth according to the state in 53 of 92 sixth-grade students, 94 of 103 seventh-grade students, and 79 of 95 eighth-grade students.