MFL MarMac school board digs into Iowa Assessment data

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Data compiled from analyzing the Iowa Assessment test scores of MFL MarMac students in elementary through high school shows, as a whole, the district is 75 to 80 percent proficient in the subject areas of reading, math and science.

Teacher Jen Wilwert presented the findings, which were also broken down to compare factors like gender, race and socioeconomic status, at the school board’s Nov. 12 meeting.

“They’re definitely numbers we can be proud of,” she said.

In science, males and females performed almost identically, with 80 percent proficiency from both. Females edged above the males just a bit in math, 75.5 percent to 74 percent. In reading, there was more of a difference, as females showed 85.5 proficiency, while males came in at 75 percent.

Superintendent Dale Crozier found the results interesting.

“The state seems to say they’re performing equally,” he remarked, “but we’ve had a hard time getting guys to take higher level classes. That’s a problem.”

“This is just the Iowa Assessment,” Wilwert reminded the board, “not the overall culture of the school.”

Each of MFL MarMac’s schools—high school, middle school, intermediate school and elementary—are ranked as acceptable through the Iowa Department of Education report card. Wilwert said each is working to close the socioeconomic achievement gap between students who receive free/reduced lunch and those who do not. At the high school, the gap is more pronounced, at 23.2 percent. At the elementary school, on the other hand, it’s 18.4 percent.

Another area the district could consider working on, said Wilwert, is college and career readiness. Of the 381 students considered, 69 were deemed proficient in science, 104 in math and 120 in reading.

In the area of race, Wilwert and Crozier said little comparison data is available, since the district simply doesn’t have enough of a minority population.

“But maybe we don’t market ourselves to attract a greater level of diversity,” Crozier noted.

FFA members present on convention

MFL MarMac FFA members Ella Hanson, Cassidy Penrod, Macie Weigand, Myah Davis and Mackenzy Ruff spoke to the school board about their recent trip to the FFA National Convention, in Indianapolis. The five, along with fellow students Braxsten Jones, Mikayla Roys and Kayleigh White, were among the 70,000 students who attended the annual event, noted Weigand, who is president of MFL MarMac’s chapter.

The students said convention highlights included a Garth Brooks concert and World’s Toughest Rodeo, as well as visits to the Indianapolis Zoo and Ozark Fisheries. They witnessed an American Degree ceremony, recognizing students who achieved the highest FFA degree. 

Weigand said one of her favorite activities was the Hall of States.

“Each state was represented,” she explained, “and you could try everything from apples from Washington to coffee from Puerto Rico.”

Penrod enjoyed meeting with different college reps, including one from Iowa State University’s agronomy program, which she plans to be part of following graduation.

Ruff appreciated the career show, where she learned more about college requirements for becoming a veterinarian, her future profession.

The convention also included a number of helpful leadership sessions and workshops, added Davis.

“I learned a lot of leadership and communication skills,” she shared.

Increase in allowable growth

The board approved the SBRC application for increasing enrollment for a modified supplemental amount of nearly $99,000.

When he learned the district was receiving that amount, Crozier admitted he didn’t know why.

“We’d never had an enrollment increase before,” he stated, referencing the 14.6 students the district picked up from last year. “Urban/suburban schools get it every year. We get it every 20 years. Hopefully, we can get it again in two or three years.”

PPEL levy extension discussed

During his report, Crozier told the board they should, at their next meeting, consider setting a special election in 2019 to extend the physical plant and equipment levy past 2023. There would be no new tax involved, he stressed.

This funding is important, noted Crozier, because it helps the district complete infrastructure projects—needs that won’t be going away.

Grant will help teachers learn more about STEM

Crozier said MFL MarMac is one of 50 districts that received a computer science planning grant that will send several teachers to workshops focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.

Contracts, resignations approved

The board approved a contract for Jean Pelleymounter, who will serve as a paraprofessional at the middle school. The board also accepted the resignation of assistant softball coach Melissa Ward.

December meeting change

The school board’s next meeting, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 10, will now be held at noon rather than the regular time of 7 p.m.

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