Sherrard AYP addressed at board meeting

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

The Sherrard Board of Education learned Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 that Sherrard students are not making adequate yearly progress in math, based on the district report card, according to Garet Egel, Sherrard High School principal.

Kim Hoffman, director of educational services, explained the testing programs at the schools. The eighth grade takes the ISAT in the spring; ninth graders take the Explore test in the fall; tenth graders take The Plan in the fall and juniors take the ACT and PSAE tests in the spring.

"The ISAT directly tests the state standards," she said. The PSAE is similar to the ISAT and measures writing, reading and math components. "Science is directly aligned with our school standards," she said.

The Explore and Plan tests are similar to the ACT and test for college readiness and work readiness.

"Illinois and Colorado are the only states that require ACT testing," she said.

Superintendent Rebecca Rodocker said the testing is necessary "in order for us to be sure that everybody is taking the right courses, that all kids are taking all the core courses."

Hofmann agreed, saying the "core needs to be rigorous."

Egel said that historical information from testing shows results from two different tests made by two different companies. He talked about a study done at Western Illinois University that shows a correlation between eighth grade test scores and 11th grade scores. "If you are meeting and exceeding in eighth grade, you should be meeting and exceeding in the 11th," he said.

The data shows that in math the district is consistently below the benchmark based on results of the Explore (ninth grade), Plan (10th grade) and ACT (11th grade) and the scores are stable -- there is no trend for increase or decrease.

The data also showed a significant drop in the percentage of students that meets or exceeds standards when comparing the same class as eighth graders and then as 11th graders.

The study does show that this is heavily dependent upon the coursework taken. There is a strong correlation for students who take Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and geometry, for doing better on the tests. "Those three classes are very important," said Hofmann.

Some of the things that the district is looking at to remedy the problem is to be consistent on when the testing is done, like maybe all testing done in the spring. The high school is also taking a look at block scheduling.

"The regional office of education is giving us money to have somebody come in to work with us," said Rodocker. "We want to work smarter."

Hofmann's assessment - "We have to dig deeper and deeper and deeper. If you don't know what your root cause is, you're not going to see any improvements."

In English, the district is above the benchmark in all grades, said Egel. The reading trend is showing we are at benchmark at all grade levels. "Science is not part of the adequate yearly progress," said Egel, however the district is below the benchmark and holding steady to slightly declining, he said.

Hoffman pointed out that 23 percent of Sherrard students is at the poverty level, in comparison to district neighbors of Rockridge and Orion, who are at 10 percent. "We can't use it as an excuse."

The next step is to bring in some outside consultants, look at teaching styles, curriculum, rigor and look at the district's system, to see if it is aligned with state standards.

Sherrard Board President Jay Bizarri said that every district is in the same boat. "It's a big thing to get a handle on."

Superintendent Rodocker thanked Egel and Hofmann for the report. "We start where we're at and move forward. It will take a couple of years," Rodoocker predicted.

The board approved the school report cards to be submitted to the Illinois Department of Education.

In other business the board:

• Approved bus bid specifications;

• Approved early graduation requests for nine students;

• Heard a report from Brady Stromquist, football coach, on the status of the Olympic Conference;

• Heard from Sherrard Elementary Principal Sue Keeney about the fourth grade enrollment, with two classes having 27 students apiece. The board approved hiring an instructional aide to work with the two fourth grade teachers;

• Approved a language clarification amendment to the one percent sales tax resolution, to clarify the one cent increase on both personal things and tangible things;

• Approved resignations including Leah Cederstrom, assistant cook, Sherrard High School, effective immediately; Rich Ruggles, junior high head football coach, effective immediately; Maude McCormick, seventh grade girls' basketball coach, effective immediately and Lisa Ward, office clerk, Matherville Intermediate School, effective Nov. 7, 2008;

• Approved hiring including Teresa Justice, 4.5 hrs. as library aide at $9.35 per hour and 2 hr. supervisor at $7.75 per hour, Matherville Intermediate School, effective Oct. 20, 2008; Theresa Gorey, one-on-one instruction aide, Winola Elementary School, 6.5 hours per day at $9.35 per hour and supervisor, .5 hours per day @ $7.75 per hour, effective Oct. 20, 2008; Heath Smith, seventh grade boys' basketball coach, per contract stipend; Dan Mizaur, junior high wrestling coach, per contract stipend and increase Kelly Monson to 12 month position;

• Approved leave of absense request by M. Whitney Woods, family medical leave beginning on or about Jan. 30, 2009 until the end of the 2008-2009 school year;

• Learned the board has no desire to change the early childhood certification requirement of the district for kindergarten instructors.