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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • YME School Board sounds off on low test scores

  • “It seems to me we heard the same thing last year,” was the reaction from YME Board member Jane Hagert after hearing that the district test scores continue to lag behind the state average with the gap between the state and YME proficiency percentages increasing. Her reaction came in response to information on wha...
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  •     “It seems to me we heard the same thing last year,” was the reaction from YME Board member Jane Hagert after hearing that the district test scores continue to lag behind the state average with the gap between the state and YME proficiency percentages increasing.  Her reaction came in response to information on what changes will be implemented at YME to bring about positive change in the test scores. Hagert went on to state that the principals’ responses were on a philosophical level and she wanted to know what was going to be done in the classroom to affect positive change.
        Other board members asked questions that exhibited both concern and frustration after YME Superintendent Al Stoeckman shared the Annual Report on Curriculum, Instruction and  Student Achievement for 2012-2013 that included the state test scores, an ACT analysis and results of a survey on the perceptions about YME.
        Once again Bert Raney Elementary lagged behind in the state average in reading in all grades tested, 3 - 8, with a range from 7 points behind state average to 27.2 percentage points behind state averages.  In math BRE students lagged behind state averages in all grades tested, 3 – 8, with a range from 11.9 percent behind the state average to 35.1 percent behind state averages.
        The high school grade 10 reading scores dropped from 77.3 percent proficient to 51.9 percent proficient from 2012 to 2013.  The 2013 reading scores showed the high school lagged behind the state average by 10.4 percent. The high school MCAII 11th grade math scores showed YME students tested lagged behind the state average by 12.7 percent with YME student averages at 37.7 percent of students testing proficient while the state average shows 52.4 percent as the average of students testing proficient across the state.
        A consistent evidence of an integral problem can be seen when trending the scores. When progress is being made on a consistent basis, when the scores are put on a graph the scores should trend up year by year.  The graphed trends at BRE and YME High in both reading and math since 2010 look like a roller coaster.
        Stoeckman told the board that there will be no excuses for the poor test scores.  BRE principal Melissa Hesch told the board that BRE teachers need to improve instruction on standards and use more regular formative assessments to check for student mastery of the standard.              YME H.S. principal Michael Meihak shared that he was not only concerned with the low test scores, but also concerned in drop in YME student ACT scores. “In the past, even though we lagged behind in the test scores I was confident that we were preparing our students for success in college,” he stated.  He went on to explain that the drop in ACT scores supports the low state test scores. He told the board that at the classroom level there will be curriculum changes and change in instruction.
    Page 2 of 3 -     Even with the evidence of poor test scores, surveys completed by staff, parents and students show that since 2010 the educational climate at YME has been steadily improving. The one area of concern that remains to plague the district is that of bullying. On the question of bullying ‘YME does not have a bullying problem’ 22.2 percent strongly disagree, 39.9 percent disagree, 25.8 percent strongly agree with 9.1 percent unable to comment.
    Bonds for
    Health and Safety
        The board approved a resolution stating the intention to issue general obligation bonds to finance certain health and safety projects.  Stoeckman shared that the bonds were needed to pay off the balance of the improvements made through the Health and Safety Facilities Project.  Originally YME had secured two QZAB Bonds, extremely low interest bonds provided through federal government stimulus programs, back in 2010.     The district received approval for a third bond to pay off the remainder of the costs that the QZAB Bonds did not cover.  “We did not finish the process of issuing the third bond because state law prohibits bonding on an issue that is in litigation,” stated Stoeckman.
        Now that the litigation is over, YME may bond to finish paying for the Health and Safety Facilities project. The funds generated from the bond sale will pay off the remaining debt of $630,000 to E.S.G., the corporation that oversaw the Health and Safety Facilities Project, cover the $30,000 fees for bonding and pay off additional debts on health and safety repairs.  
        The intention to call for bids of a total not to exceed $730,000 in bonds was passed by the board.  “When we put the bonding process on hold because of the lawsuit we were approved to bond for $1.25 million to finish the project, now we are bonding for almost $500,000 less.”
    Other action items
    •    The board revised the FY14 Integration Collab-orative Budget to show an additional $9.000 in funds.
    •    The board approved a full time paraprofessional contract with Carolyn Runck as a part time classroom Spanish assistant and to work with reading and math in the sixth grade students under Title 1.
    •    The board approved a contract with Aaron Schuler as a co-advisor for the fall musical.
    •    The board accepted the resignation of Ben Lecy as prom advisor.  The board formally recognized Lecy for his many years of service as prom advisor.
    •    The board approved a contract with Robyn Speh to replace Lecy as prom advisor.
    Closed session
        The board closed the session to discuss ongoing negotiations with EMYME, the local teachers union.
    Page 3 of 3 -     The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be held on October 14, at 6:00 p.m. in the YME Board room.
     
     

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