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TMCNet:  Board approves goals for Evans

[November 13, 2012]

Board approves goals for Evans

Nov 12, 2012 (The Hawk Eye - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Burlington School Board Monday approved a list of goals for Superintendent Jane Evans.

The list of goals are designed to improve student achievement, reduce the number of dropouts at Burlington High School and improve communication in the school district.

"Hopefully this will hold everyone accountable from teachers to building administrators to administrators in (the administration building)," said Darven Kendell, board president.

Evans' goals are a more condensed version compared to last year, and they are more targeted.

"We can really focus on these goals," she said.

Last year, Evans goals were designed to improve student achievement, communication, safety and facilities.

Under improving student achievement, Evans said she wants each grade level to make one year's growth in reading and math as measured by the standardized testing and reporting assessments from September to May.

"The way we are going to indicate if we are making progress or not is to look at grade level STAR scores," she said. "We expect to see one years growth in reading and math as measured by the STAR assessment." The STAR assessment is a computerized test for reading and math. The requirement is to give the test at least three times a year and Evans said the test takes about 15 minutes to complete.

The assessment is scored automatically by the software. Teachers and administrators are able to view and print a number of reports for each individual student as well as each classroom, and grade level in order to monitor progress.

Evans also said the test is in place to measure a students growth in a particular subject.

"Teachers are able to get a grade equivalent, which compares where the child was at the beginning of the year compared to the next time they give the test," Evans said. "If the students are making progress, everything is well and good. If they are not making progress, we may have to use some other diagnostic test to see why students are not making progress." One school board member already is a fan of the STAR assessments.

"I like it as a parent," Kendell said. "When I go into a conference with a teacher, I can see how my child is doing." Evans also wants to reduce the number of dropouts at BHS from 85 students to 75.

It also has been a goal of the district's School Improvement Advisory Committee.

"When you start to see falling grades and poor attendance, you see someone who is at a greater risk of dropping out," Evans said. "The better job we do of engaging students and helping them be successful in reading and math, the more likely we are to improve the dropout rate overtime." Evans final goal involves improving communication. Among other things, Evans wants to send out a staff newsletter weekly.

"The newsletters allows you have timely information and content," Kendell said.

In addition, Evans also will host roundtable discussions with employee groups in the school district, including teachers, transportation, food service and maintenance employees, among others.

One group of people left off the list were parents, which didn't sit well with board member Michael Warner.

"If we want to touch the community, we need to get staff, administrators and parents together because that is your key," Warner said to Evans. "I've had parents come up to me and say they want to be part of the school, but they don't know how. We need to hold meetings and get the parents involved." In addition, Evans also wants to communicate the goals of the Responsible Thinking Classroom.

In RTC, students will recognize what they did wrong and discuss ways to handle similar situations in the future.

Evans wants to make herself more visible, which is something she already is doing now. She hopes to spend 10 days visiting classrooms in the district's nine schools, and she wants to attend school and community events.

"You are out in the community, and you are part of civic groups," Kendell said to Evans. "I think that is great, and it makes you more approachable, and that is a good thing." ___ (c)2012 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) Visit The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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