School Board's assessments update - in advance of new report cards

Teachers are constantly looking at data.” - Tammy Stewart, D56 Trustee

Board Member: Testing all the time doesn’t see ‘growth’

The student body of District 56 has completed a grueling, rigorous set of state and federal tests. Education groups beyond the local district will use this test data to determine how well teachers did their jobs.

That is not the whole picture, however, says a District 56 board member who is a teacher.

“We have to look at where they (D56 students) came from. We have to look at their growth,” said Tammy Stewart, who teaches in Laurens.

Her comments came as part of an assessments update at Thursday’s meeting of the District 56 Board of Trustees at MS Bailey Child Development Center. 

Brenda Schrantz, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, gave the assessments update; and Board Chairman Jim Barton asked how long after the tests will data be available and teacher training be modified to correct students’ learning gaps. Stewart said the assessments - while high-stress, high-reward for the students - are important, but even more important to teachers are daily assessments.

“Teachers are constantly looking at data,” she said.

Schrantz said the State Department of Education is looking for data it never before has collected - 88% of D56 students have completed a “student engagement survey” (for grades 3-12 students enrolled on the 90th day).

Crunching all those numbers will be a summer-long experience for the instruction and curriculum staff, Schrantz said. It will culminate in November when districts statewide receive new-form School and District Report Cards.

“We will go through what this report card looks like. The state is looking at data it has never looked at before, including work-based learning,” Schrantz said. “It is much more vast. We know evaluating a student is not all about a one-day test. Our students are being asked to challenge themselves.”

During its May 24 meeting, the District 56 board received reports on summer feeding, finance, and Wilder Stadium.

For the first time this summer, there will be a summer feeding site in Joanna, at the First Baptist Church (Joanna Woodson Elementary will undergo renovations), and there will be a site at Clinton High School. The program is designed to offer nutritious meals to students who might not eat well outside of school, and to anyone in the community.

The board will put its budget process on hold - or adopt a continuing resolution setting spending at this year’s level - since the state budget will not be ready until June 27, at the earliest. If the House version passes, it will mean a pay-out by District 56 of $57,000 for salary increases. Most districts are working from the Senate version, the board was told.

An upgrade of more than $1 million in local money to Wilder Stadium is progressing, the board was told. Prices from sub-contractors are being received, and work will start as soon as school ends on June 6.

Resulting from an executive session, action was offer two teachers induction contracts and one teacher a continuing contract, and to release one employee from a contract.

The District 56 Board of Trustees also unanimously adopted a School Calendar for 2019-2020, closely following the District 55 calendar. Weather make-up days will be built in before state testing (and not at the end of the year as this spring), and Clinton High graduation 2020 will be on June 5, the 180th day of the academic year, to comply with state law.


(Awards from the May 24 D56 Board meeting will be published in the June 6th Chronicle.)


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