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JSD moves to better track student success

Posted: December 14, 2011 - 1:05am

Last year the Juneau School District moved to implement Measures of Academic Progress, and this fall the school board and administration sought a clear way to track success in the district.

Those two have started to come together. Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich shared charted student achievement data with the board on Tuesday night via a scatter graph. Phil Loseby, assessment coordinator, created the graph. It shows the growth of students tested in fall of 2010 and again in fall 2011. Students who missed one of those testing sessions were not marked on the charts.

Three were produced — one for reading, language arts and mathematics.

The graph is split into four squares and charted based upon two things — a full year’s growth in learning and proficiency at grade level. A student can make a full year’s progress in learning, but still be behind in proficiency. Another student could be proficient according to grade level, but not make a full year’s worth of educational growth.

While numbers of exactly how many students were in each quarter were not available, percentages were. For those proficient and making one year’s growth, 47 percent of tested students were in that category for reading. Fifteen percent of students were proficient, but did not make a full year’s worth of growth; 16 percent made a full year’s worth of growth but were not considered grade-level proficient; 22 percent were not proficient nor did they make a year’s worth of growth.

Similar percentages were seen in language arts, with small shifts in the sections. Mathematics saw a larger shift with proficient/year growth students at 42 percent; 14 percent proficient/not full growth; 21 percent not proficient/year growth; and 23 percent not proficient/not full growth.

Those students whose testing shows they are in the not proficient/not making full growth sector should be the area the district is most concerned about, Gelbrich said. He added anyone outside the proficient/full growth sector also will need additional help — and that’s more than 50 percent of students tested in each category.

The hundreds of little dots make for a very busy chart, however Gelbrich believes as the data is collected over the years, the district should see a shift of those dots moving toward the corner for those proficient and making full growth.

“What you have here is the first year of dots,” Gelbrich explained.

Board members Barbara Thurston and Sally Saddler were concerned about those students not charted who missed one of the testing sessions. Gelbrich said the district should be able to chart all of its students, so long as there is a baseline test and a follow up test to compare — for example, if a student took two spring tests or two winter tests. But, Gelbrich said, this charted data gives the board and administration enough information for the policy level. Teachers will have all the data on their students.

“The staff at the school sites — where each one, every one happens — will have data on all of the students,” he said. “Our role is to look at the trend.”

Gelbrich also presented a four-page document that gives guidance to “dashboard indicators of success” or how the district will determine if it’s successful in its mission or if it’s missing some components. Those are broken down into eight categories: student achievement, professional development, attendance (student and staff), graduation rate, grade level core standards, resource allocation, and students entering ready to learn.

All of these categories identify the tool the district plans to use to assess the category, how and who reports the data, how the district should respond to the data, and who is accountable for it.

In other business, the board unanimously approved legislative priorities and its capital needs list. The list totals $600,000 in requests, which are predominantly for technology funding.

Resident Laurie Berg said she believes the computer carts used for MAP testing need to be replaced because there are too many problems with them to have effective testing.

Laury Scandling, assistant superintendent, said that the issues aren’t so much related to the quality of the computers but more to peripheral issues — such as proper loading and transportation of the computers and carts to each school, sufficient connectivity, and program errors.

“The carts, while they were a component, were not a driving factor in why we struggled with administration,” Scandling said.

Berg suggested the board still consider replacing the computers as they also are more than 5 years old — going beyond the useful life of the computer. The computers proposed to be replaced in other sections of the capital needs list are 5 or more years old — some past 10 years. Berg said she felt testing was the most important use of the computers and should rank among the top tech priorities.

When the board passed the list as-is, members mentioned they can still take another look at the tech needs priority and change some options if needed.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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