MFL MarMac School Board reviews assessment data

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

At its July 10 meeting, the MFL MarMac School Board reviewed the data from the 2016-2017 Iowa Assessment. Teacher Jen Wilwert gave the presentation, breaking down student proficiency, by grade level, in reading, math, science and social studies.

Students fared best in science, with all but second grade demonstrating 79 percent proficiency or higher.

The second graders came in at 66.2 percent proficiency, but Wilwert said the statistic is not surprising, and the next year’s second graders will likely show similar results.

At the time the students take the Iowa Assessment, said Wilwert, “They just don’t have the knowledge yet, but by the time they get to third grade, they have that base. The kids seem to work it out, whatever their problems may be.”

Superintendent Dale Crozier said MFL MarMac has always ranked highest in science, year in and year out.

“Now, we’re right up there in social studies,” he said, with the data showing all but two grades (seventh and eighth grades) at 70 percent proficiency or better.

Reading, Crozier said, is where MFL MarMac puts much of its focus, but achieving higher proficiency levels is more of a struggle.

According to Wilwert, three grades fell short of the district goal of 75 percent proficiency, with sixth grade coming in at 67.3 percent, seventh at 70.4 percent and eighth at 71.4 percent.

In math, where MFL MarMac also has a 75 percent proficiency goal, all grades hit above the mark except second (69.2), third (50.7), sixth (72.7) and eighth (73.5).

The elementary students, however, noted Wilwert, showed great improvement as the school year progressed.

School board members wondered how accurate the data was in assessing the students’ capabilities.

“There are a lot of variables,” said board member Brian Meyer. “Every kid is different. Every day is different.”

“It’s a one-day snapshot,” Wilwert agreed, noting that such things as the weather, or even the full moon, could play a factor in student performance.

McGregor Center Principal Denise Mueller said motivation is a big factor at the middle school level.

By high school, said high school principal Larry Meyer, students tend to take the test more seriously.

“It’s a pretty accurate assessment,” he said.

“It’s an indicator,” Wilwert added. “Teachers look at it and take it seriously, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. They also have other assessments.”

Overall, data is important to the teachers, Mueller shared.

“They take it to heart,” she said. “They dig deep to see what they can do.”

KPEC

Tesha Ruley, director of educational services at the Keystone Area Education Agency, spoke to the board about Keystone’s Premier Education Conference (KPEC), held in late June.

A total of 750 educators attended KPEC, which featured 88 breakout sessions. The sessions, Ruley said, were led by practicing educators who shared information on a variety of topics.

Twenty staff from MFL MarMac attended KPEC, Ruley added, with Crozier leading a breakout session and Heidi Meyer and Jessica Peterson partnering to lead another.

Contracts

The school board accepted the resignation of first grade teacher Ashley Sickles. Amy Decker, who was teaching junior kindergarten, will now transfer to first grade. A contract, at .8 full-time equivalency, was approved for Shelly Stubbs for pre-kindergarten.

At the middle school level, the board approved a contract for Kyle Pedretti as a special education paraprofessional.

Jason Winter was approved as high school girls basketball coach, replacing Sickles. Winter had served as the assistant under Sickles. 

Alex Kvistad was approved as a cheerleading coach and Natalie Heiring as the junior high girls basketball coach.

Handbook

Meyer reviewed some changes to the high school handbook, with the most notable being that students will no longer be allowed to take backpacks into classrooms. Students can use backpacks to transport books and other items to and from school, he said, but then they must remain in students’ lockers.

Meyer cited a lack of space in classrooms, as well as staff having difficulty moving around the classrooms, as major factors in the change. He said backbacks also allowed students to carry and conceal pop and other items that are not permitted at school.

“Students should be able to handle getting to class on time without them,” Meyer said.

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