Tests show progress for Benton students

by jmagdefrau on June 20, 2010

By JIM MAGDEFRAU

Star Press Union editor

Tests.

Students are taking more of them in school so the school can assess where they progress from year to year, and how they compare to other schools in the state and in the nation.

Last Wednesday, June 16, the assessments taken at Benton Community were explained by Benton Community principals Jo Prusha, James Bieschke and Jason West.

Middle school principal Prusha, who is also curriculum director, explained student achievement data. She first told why assessments are given and how the assessments are used, and if the curriculum matches up to the assessments they have.

High School Principal Bieschke explained the scores on the CSIP, following the grades each year, so the school looks at the same students each year.

He pointed out Benton has an ACT score of 22.49, compared to the state average of 22.16 and the national average of 21.04. Over the past five years, Benton has have averaged 22.42. Prusha pointed out a high percentage of students take the ACT test at Benton.

Accelerated and star reader scores were also explained, as well as the impact of skills tutors.

The Stanford Diagnostic Test was also explained for reading. It showed that eighth graders in the fall had a grade equivalency score of 9.81. In the spring the score was 11.54, and 87 eighth graders had post-high school equivalency in reading scores.

West, Atkins principal and elementary curriculum director, explained the elementary assessment plan. Among the tests is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Testing is done in February. They have debated about having the test in the fall, because of weather and sickness impacting the school in the winter.

The data will be reviewed during the Annual Progress Report this fall, which looks at grade/course information, classroom assessments, attendance, graduate rates, Iowa Youth Survey data and graduation follow-up data.

At the student level, the school will help students individually, work on test-taking strategies differentiation within a classroom, or do things consistently from classroom to classroom. On the school level, adjustments are made to the curriculum and instruction, with a focus on Iowa Core Curriculum. The staff also uses the data for professional development, with a focus this and next year on learning supports, or making sure a student is ready to learn when he or she comes into the building, Prusha said.

Bieschke said a curriculum map will be a big tool that will take time, but it is essential.

Staff action

- The school board accepted the resignation of Lindsay Myer Gianetto as art club sponsor, and Carolyn Zillman as food service worker at the middle-senior high school. The board also accepted the resignation of Ryan Rader, elementary guidance counselor.

The following recommendations were approved:

- Julie Lindke, fifth grader teacher at the Norway Center.

- Jeremy Cue, high school mathematics.

- Christi Bossler, food service at the Atkins Center

- Calvin Wolter, seventh grade volleyball coach.

- Jared Pirk, 10th grade boys’ basketball coach.

Legislative priorities

The board approved its top five legislative priorities for the upcoming session. Suggested priorities dealt with the statewide penny tax for school infrastructure, full state funding for professional development, Iowa Core Curriculum, English language learner program, allowable growth, instructional support levy, local control, and accounting of tax exemptions, credits and deductions.

Atkins center

An update was given on the Atkins Elementary Center project. They are two weeks in to the remodeling part of the project, and it is substantially on schedule.

They are now dealing with mold issues. Three vendors gave prices on how to deal with it. Issues also arose with stone windowsills and a sewer line that needs to be replaced. Change orders were approved for lighting and electrical work. ServiceMaster was approved to deal with the mold problems for $20,780.34.

Other business

In other business at the board meeting:

- Policies were reviewed and accepted on the school budget process.

- The board approved a statement regarding intangible assets.

- Student fees were approved as follows:

K-6 Registration fee, $37

7-8 Registration fee, $45 (book rental, towel fee)

9-12 registration fee, $75 (book rental, towel fee, activity ticket)

9-11 class dues, $15

Senior class dues, $35

K-8 activity ticket, $30

5-12 instrumental rental, $100

- The following hot lunch prices were approved:

K-6, $1.90 per day (10 cent increase)

7-12, $2 per day (10 cent increase)

Adult, $2.75 per day

K-12 breakfast, $1.40 per day (15 cent increase)

-The driver’s education fee for next year will be increased from $320 to $350.

-The board approved Anderson Erickson Dairy for milk bids, and IBC Sales Corporation for bread bids.

- A field trip was approved for the yearbook staff to attend the National Journalism Convention in Kansas City this fall.

- There were no objectors to the school starting school on Aug. 19, instead of after Labor Day. A hearing was held at the start of the meeting for the early start waiver.

- The board approved $492,380.85 in warrants. Business manager Doug Embray pointed out the books would be closed at the end of the month for the fiscal year, with final close between August and September.

- In financial reports, Embray said it appears the school will stay within its estimate.

- He also gave an update on the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) projects. Final approval was given. Work will start in the next few weeks.

- In administrative reports, Superintendent Gary Zittergruen reported on the Accelerated Reader program, which according to a letter from the program’s director, stands out on a national level,

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