School board reviews Iowa Assessment data

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

MFL MarMac third grade teacher Jennifer Wilwert presented the district’s latest Iowa Assessment data to the school board at its May 14 meeting.

In reading, grades two through 11 met the district’s goal of being at least 75 percent proficient, with the exception of seventh grade, at 70.2 percent. The highest percentages came at sixth (90 percent) and 10th grades (90.9 percent). At nearly every level, MFL MarMac either matched or surpassed the state average.

In math, the middle and high school students maintained a proficiency of 76 percent or better, including 90.9 percent at the 10th grade level. In second through fifth grade, however, numbers dipped below 70 percent, including 62.1 percent for the third graders.

This drop, explained Wilwert, is attributable to the Iowa Assessment test not aligning with the Iowa Core.

“This is a good indication that the test doesn’t match what’s being instructed,” she said. “It doesn’t match what we’re teaching at the time.”

Superintendent Dale Crozier said the Iowa Assessment test makers have stated they are working toward better alignment, but that will take time.

“We don’t get too worked up about it,” he noted.

“I assure you, the staff have looked at the curriculum,” Wilwert told the board. “Within our classroom assessments, we’re not seeing the same issues.”

 In science, all but three grades surpassed 80 percent proficiency. Seventh grade was at 77.2 percent and ninth at 72.5 percent. The second graders, meanwhile, were at 54.1 percent. That low mark, said Wilwert, is not surprising.

“There’s something about the test—they don’t have the background knowledge,” she shared of when the test is administered in the fall. “But they get it sometime in the school year. They get to third grade and do just fine.”

In addition to the Iowa Assessment data, Wilwert said teachers at the elementary also consider FAST testing information, “Math Probes” and other “oodles of assessments” when shaping instruction.

The information, Crozier said, aids the district’s vertical articulation (aligning subject curriculum from grade to grade) and personalized professional development. It also helps staff pinpoint weaknesses or gaps, added high school principal Larry Meyer.

“Teachers take the data seriously,” Crozier said. “They’re constantly looking at strategies.”

Staffing changes approved

The school board also approved several staffing changes at last week’s meeting. Resigning their positions are special education teacher Kathy Ehlers, general music teacher Ashley McLaughlin, middle school language arts teacher Scott Boylen and paraprofessionals Sandy Thornton and Lisa Weigand. Michelle Hontz is ending her run as dance coach and Kelly Winter will step down as middle school track coach, pending a suitable replacement.

The board also approved the hiring of Brett Jackson for middle school special education. Kelli Saxe will be the new dance coach, Tracy Decker a middle school football coach and Dan Anderson the head high school football coach.

Elementary receives STEM grant

Elementary principal Kathy Koether noted she accepted a $500 donation from the Monona Women’s Club for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects and learning at the school. 

Middle school investigating lengthening class periods

McGregor Center principal Denise Mueller said staff are investigating lengthening class periods at the school, allowing for more instruction as well as more time for students to complete work in class. Classes are currently 40 minutes long, but could be increased to 50 or 55 minutes by lessening study hall time during the day, she said.

“Kids don’t use that time productively,” she explained.

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