2011-10-06 / Community

School test scores may confuse

BY JOHN BONKE
Staff Writer * 810-452-2668 * jbonke@mihomepaper.com

HURON COUNTY —Changes in test scoring might confuse some parents this year, according to Huron Intermediate School District General Education Director Karen Currie.

The Huron ISD Board heard a presentation from Currie at its rescheduled regular meeting Sept. 26. Currie said the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) cut scores, which set the minimum standard for a student to be considered “proficient,” are being raised.

This is being done to bring Michigan students, “ranked near the bottom,” to be more “in-line” with their peers in other states.

Currie said the MEAP scores might be perceived to be significantly different this year, which may cause some concern among parents.

She explained student performance could be the same or better, but the bar has been raised.

Currie said the HISD is working with the local school districts providing updates and training, as well as in explaining the changes, designed to help ensure Michigan students are career- and college-ready. The Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) and the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) will be replaced in 2014 with “Common Core Standards” curricula-related “SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium” testing in English & Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics (Math). The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium is a coalition of 31 states. “In the long run, it will help us make our schools stronger,” said Currie. In Michigan, the overall effort will be known as “Career & College Readiness Standards.”

In other board matters, the HISD continues looking into using the “Skyward” computer software program, which could benefit all local districts. Director of Business Operations Julie Williams spoke to the board about the program and the benefits to the local districts. Williams said the ISD is looking at purchasing the program for the entire county, with local contributions similar to what each is paying for its existing program. Among the benefits would be ease of sharing financial reports and student data. She stated if a staff member is absent, there would be others who would know how to handle payroll and accounts payable, for example. She added if a student moves from one district to another, their data would easily transfer. District employees could update information changes throughout the year online. Also, the county could have a shared information technology (IT) person. Williams said the purchase cost, just under $400,000, would be covered by Durant and Capital Projects funds. She noted the first year cost to local districts would be higher than subsequent years because the Skyward personnel would handle the initial conversion. Williams said Skyward is “really user-friendly.” Principal Clark Brock, who was at North Huron when that district began using the program, said, “I liked it. It’s a nice system.” Superintendent Joe Murphy said that he has been taking to the local districts and “the majority was on-board.” Board Member David Thuemel said, “It makes a lot of sense. We all have to work together.” In her Director’s Report, Special Student Services Director Carol Brown reported the Huron Learning Center’s School Improvement Plan is complete, and the Behavior Support Committee has chosen “Lions” as the school’s mascot, with the slogan: “Hear us roar!” Also, the Huron County Special Olympics conducted a multi-day Root Beer Float sale at McDonald's Food & Family Center in Bad Axe and raised around $700. Brown said, “There was a wonderful response from the community. They were very generous. We appreciate it so much,” Brown said.She said efforts regarding a pilot program being developed for inclusion of special education students in pre-school programs continues. Specifics are uncertain at this time, she noted. Principal Clark Brock reported that ground breaking for a garage at the learning center transition house is anticipated before October’s board meeting. He said a delay actually helped with fiber optics placement. Brock reported to the board the Gemini group had donated modular manufacturing table-top units. The board accepted the resignation of Health Sciences Paraprofessional Sheila Holmrich and hired Debra Grifka for the position. Brock said the position was posted and interviews were conducted. “We’re very pleased with her. I think it will work out real well,” Brock said.

The board hired former Huron County Kent Tibbits as a part-time Law Enforcement & Public Safety Instructor.

“Kent is here almost as much as full-time instructors. He’s very dedicated,” said Brock.

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