By R. Scott Belzer
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The East Bernstadt School Board received a wake-up call following their meeting on Thursday evening, coming in the form of winter Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment scores.
MAP assessments are computerized, adaptive achievement tests in mathematics and reading. The scores help schools track how students are performing in both subjects.
For East Bernstadt Independent, there’s plenty of work to be done in mathematics. While nearly all grade levels are showing improvement in reading, students are underachieving in math.
First graders were measured to be the most on course, with 65 percent performing on grade level for reading and 71 percent on grade level in mathematics. Eighth-grade students put up the most troubling numbers, with only 33 percent performing on grade level in reading and only 30 percent on track in math.
The schools’ overall goal is to have 80 percent of students performing at grade level in both subjects by the end of the school year.
According to Director of Pupil Personnel and Instructional Supervisor Andrea Kesler, it’s still far from the time to worry.
“A lot of these numbers have been increasing since fall testing,” said Kesler. “Fall to spring or fall to fall is the big growth period. Fall to winter is not usually a growth period.”
In addition, each grade level has developed improvement strategies to help raise percentages. Teachers from each grade level are implementing these strategies in their classrooms.
Individualized test scores are also given out to teachers so they can chart whether or not students are showing growth. The teachers use these test scores to see if they should start specifically tailored three-tier intervention plans.
Tier 1 consists of extended monitoring in the classroom. If they go to Tier 2, students spend 20 extra minutes for three days a week on a computer-based tutoring program. If a student requires Tier 3 intervention, an extra teacher is put with a student for 30 minutes, four times a week.
“I do feel like our teachers are really analyzing their scores and asking, ‘What can we do?’ and have been very open to suggestions,” Principal Teresa Smith said. “I feel like we are going to get there, it’s just going to take a little while. And 80 percent is a really high goal.”
Another useful tool being utilized by East Bernstadt Independent comes in the form of Kentucky’s Kindergarten Readiness results. The scores show how only about 49 percent of students entering kindergarten are actually prepared for it. The tests look at letter recognition, song recognition, coloring with crayons, cutting with scissors, and other related motor skills.
“We’ve got kids entering kindergarten who can hold a pencil and some that have never seen a pencil,” Kesler said. “You’ve got kids who have attended preschool and some who have not had any help at all.”
The idea is to let parents know what preschoolers need to work on before entering kindergarten. Smith suggested worksheets be handed out to parents at kindergarten orientation in the spring.
Other business included:
• Construction on East Bernstadt’s facilities is nearly complete. Only the building’s exterior needs to be finished, being held up due to inclement weather. Workers will be coming back to paint, complete remaining floor tiles and insert classroom dividers. Bathroom floors will be laid during Spring Break. The gym is scheduled to be finished by mid-August.
• The board is looking into changing the wording of their athletic policy. Player eligibility – specifically for transfer students – has been confusing parents; and the board wants to make sure rules are fair for all students.
• The board approved increasing custodial hours to accommodate for East Bernstadt’s new renovations. The custodial staff will now have three full-time workers each evening from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
• The board approved a $300 KASA grant to offset expenses for Finance Director Amy Brown to attend the Finance Policy and Operations Institute in March.
• The board also approved a Family Resource and Youth Services Center grant for $61,000. The grant is awarded every two years and is wholly dependent on the school’s reduced lunch population.
• Kentucky State Senator Albert Robinson met with the board on Jan. 24 regarding their concerns for funding in education.
“He listened to our questions and concerns,” said Superintendent Vicki Jones. “We hope those messages will get back to Frankfort and we will see some changes.”