Westmer School District makes ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

The Westmer Board of Education learned that the district received notice that it had met adequate yearly progress in reading and mathematics (AYP). State AYP requires that 95 percent be tested in reading and mathematics, with 62.5 percent needing to meet or exceed the state minimum target in both areas. The district rate for reading was 65 percent and for mathematics was 80.1 percent. The high school reading rate, however was 42.9 percent that meet or exceed standards. The state also requires a minimum attendance rate of 90 percent, with Westmer's district rate at 94.2 percent. The AYP graduation rate indicator requires a 75 percent target, with Westmer's graduation rate at 92.5 percent.

Secondary principal Rob Reed said the junior high scores went up. "The state recalculated and rescored the ISAT and PSAE," he said. The junior high reading scores were at 64.8 percent meeting or exceeding standards and math scores were 86.7 percent meeting or exceeding. He credited the strong staff reinforcement each year for this accomplishment. The high school's math scores were adequate at 64.3 percent meeting or exceeding, but the reading scores were at 42.9 percent, meaning the school did not meet AYP in reading. Reed said the school will implement both a reading and math review to try and improve the situation. "This is not going to be on any warning list, but if we don't meet it again next year, it will," said Reed.

He said the district needed to prepare a Response to Intervention, finding strategies for higher achieving by January.

Elementary scores for reading were at 70.3 percent meeting or exceeding standards and 78.8 percent meeting or exceeding in math. She said that over the past three years reading has improved from 51.9 percent in 2005-2006, 64.9 percent in 2006-2007 to the 70.3 percent in 07-08.

She said that math went down from 2006-2007 when it was 80.2 percent meeting or exceeding to this year's 78 percent.

Next year's No Child Left Behind requirements are rising five percent to 67.5 percent in math and reading.

The formula for school funding is based on the highest three months of school attendance, Interim Superintendent Bruce Hall said.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a technique used at Westmer Elementary, said Robinson. "One of every 250 schools in Illinois were at the implementing status," said Robinson.

The district is sending five secondary teachers for training in PBIS. She said that after winter break the PBIS program will kick off at the secondary school "The sixth and seventh graders are already accustomed to it."

The PBIS program uses incentives to help motivate good behavior. "We pretty much use our activity fund," she said.

A lunchtime and before and after school tutoring program is being offered in conjunction with a 21st Century grant program. This involves around 15 students so far this year. Secondary principal Rob Reed said the program will probably grow this year, just like it did last year. He said that last year Wal-Mart gift cards worth $90 were given out 30 times. Another incentive is that students who met or exceeded in the ACT tests, were being given the opportunity to win a TV.

"You don't expect kids to know how to behave. You need to teach kids what is expected." She added that behavior and academics are usually tied together.

In other business the board:

  •  Learned it would be receiving a $14,234 federal REAP grant to spend on rural education programs.
  •  Approved holding off payment of $14,400 for a health life safety project, until the contractor submits the required documents.
  •  Approved the sale of a mini bus to First Baptist Church for $1,500.
  •  Approved a health life safety resolution to replace the public address system at the elementary school at a cost of around $2,500.
  •  Approved the following resignations: Bob Stockham as eighth grade girl's and boy's basketball coach and high school girl's track coach; Jennifer Beattie as one-on-one aide at the secondary; Tony Elliot as transportation director effective Sept. 5, 2008; Amanda Soseman as half time one-on-one aide and  half time Title I aide and Heather Howlett as a server.
  •  Amended motions made in August to give IMRF speech paraprofessional position full insurance benefits, and another motion to reassign Doris Leopard to a half time Project Ahead coordinator and half time Project Ahead aide, rather than full time Project Ahead coordinator for the 2008-2009 school year.
  •  Approved employment of Ernest Dillie Jr. as transportation director; Lorie Crose and Sue Roberts to equally share position of special education coordinators for the 2008-2009 school year; Trudi Shepard as member of the Westmer Elementary school improvement committee; Kathy Campbell as an elementary one-on-one aide for the 2008-2009 school year; Emily Bullock as secondary one-on-one aide for the 2008-2009 school year.