CHATHAM–Schools Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo reviewed test scores and coaching policies with the board at Tuesday night’s meeting. The state has changed standards used to grade tests students took during the last school year, so now the district, which originally had passing rates high as 80% is down in the 40% range.
The board also heard from many parents about a policy that allows students from the junior high to play on high school teams. The parents who attended the August 10 meeting wanted the policy to include wording that younger students would not displace older students returning to the team.
Ms. Nuciforo said the administration is reviewing the policies on athletic and extra-curricular activities. Coaches will receive training in the new policies, which deal with issues of perceived favoritism, discipline and looking at the 7th-through-12th-grade program.
The board also approved the formation of a new Public Library Advisory Committee. The Chatham Public Library, whichn is attached to the Middle School, is funded through the school budget, and may now be the only library in the state funded that way. As a result, the Board of Education also acts at the library’s board of trustees. Last year the school board started the conversation about separating library’s finances from the district budget, but the district is not planning to sever its ties with the public library any time soon. Ms. Nuciforo said school officials are currently working on just separating the finance codes in the budget.
The role of the advisory committee’s will be to make recommendations to the Board of Education regarding community priorities, policy, budget, the library plan of service and facilities. It will be made up of nine members: two from the Board of Education, five community members, the school district superintendent and a representative from the Friends of the Chatham Library group.
The district is planning to advertise for the community members and will ask people to send a letter of intent and come in for an interview. “We really want to reach out to as many people as possible,” board member Melony Spock said of the committee. She said the school board plans to start the process quickly and have a committee in place by September.
This fall the district will also be handling questions from parents about the new scores their children received on the statewide math and English exams in grades 3 through 8. The state has redefined the standards that applied to the levels, which run from 1 to 4, said Ms. Nuciforo of grading in the state.
When students left in June, a “3” meant a student was performing “on grade level.” Now a 3 means a student is performing with “proficiency,” and the standards to reach that have become higher. Many students who received 3 in June will now be in the 2 range, due to changes in the “cut scores,” or percentage that determines proficiency.
Changing the “cut score” from 650 to 684 on the 3rd grade math test means that the passing rate in the district dropped from 77% to 44%. On the 4th grade English test the cut scores changed from 655 to 671 and the rate of students who received that grade dropped from 80% to 56%. There were some scores that did not show as great a change, but most changed by 20 points.
“There has been no drop in achievement, this is just different standards,” Ms. Nuciforo told the board.
Ms. Nuciforo said the district is still waiting for guidance from the state about academic intervention for students whose test scores now place them under proficiency level. “I don’t yet know now they are going to use it for accountability,” she said of programs like No Child Left Behind, which looked at test scores to determine federal funding.
Ms. Nuciforo said they were discussing ways to talk to parents about the new scoring and she would keep the board notified.
The next school board meeting will be August 24 at 6:30pm in the High School Library.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .