Germantown hears good news on student progress

GERMANTOWN—Nichole McCollum, chief information officer of Questar III BOCES, reviewed federal and state student test results this week with the Board of Education.

During a 75-page PowerPoint presentation September 10, Ms. McCollum showed a dizzying array of statistics that put Germantown in context with state and countywide results.

In general, Germantown students are doing well on the Common Core curriculum tests, often better than other districts in Columbia County and in the state. In English Language Arts, 28.8% to 35.5% percent in grades 3 through 8 showed “proficiency,” scoring a Level 3 or 4 on the exam. This was the same pattern as last year, when 1s and 2s were the more frequent score.

The sixth grade, a very large class, is doing less well than Grade 8, a small class.

But “it’s not a great thing to compare one class to another,” said Superintendent Susan Brown during the discussion. “Each class is made up of different individuals with different strengths.”

The district also needs to look at student growth, she said, not just whether a student is scoring a 1 or a 2, but whether that student moved from a “low 1” to a “high 1,” or a “high 1” to a 2.

On the state Regents exams, many Germantown students performed well, with 89% passing the global history Regents exam. “That’s a phenomenal rate; it’s a very hard exam,” said Ms. McCollum. In other subjects, 91% passed the biology exam and 75% passed algebra/trigonometry, another very hard test, said Ms. McCollum.

And 100% passed the Common Core integrated algebra test. “Only one other Questar III district achieved that,” said Ms. McCollum.

Germantown’s graduation rate also improved in 2014. Graduation rates are measured in “cohort years”–students that start 9th grade together. In the past, Germantown’s graduation rate had been relatively high, up to 90% for the 2004 cohort. After that the rate fell, reaching a low of 75% for the 2009 cohort. But the 2010 cohort—this year’s graduating class—had a rate of 86%, though of those, 35.7% were deemed “college ready,” that is, not needing remedial work in college.

“We’re excited about the progress that our students made in general,” Ms. Brown said after the meeting. “We look at every child’s score for individual student growth. But that is only one measure. We use data to inform instruction, but we use multiple measures.

“For example,” she said, “we use our own local assessment, which is not always a paper-and-pencil test. Teacher observations, made in an anecdotal way, are also an assessment.”

Ms. McCollum’s PowerPoint, “Germantown 2014 3-8 ELA and Math Presentation,” can be found on the district’s website,

In other business, the school board:

  • Learned that social studies teacher Dominick Lecce had hosted filmmaker Nick Holsapple and clips of his documentary, “Germantown: Stories of Our History.” Mr. Holsapple, who grew up in Germantown, talked to the class about filmmaking, history and his days as a GCS student
  • Learned that Michael DelPozzo’s students won second prize for their artwork at the Columbia County Fair
  • Heard that School Garden, on Nancy Fuller Ginsberg’s Food Network show, “Farmhouse Rules,” was scheduled to air Sunday, September 21 at 12:30 p.m. and Monday, September 22 at 5:30 p.m. The show features GCS students
  • Learned that Superintendent Brown had been chosen a Woman of Distinction by state Senator Kathleen A. Marchione (R-43). Ms. Brown said after the meeting, “I don’t know how I was nominated…. I was very pleasantly shocked.” Her family and the Board of Education also received invitations to awards event in Saratoga Springs
  • Set a special meeting Monday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m. to review bids for repointing brick in the 1920s section of the school building.

The next regular board meeting is Wednesday, October 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the school building, 123 Main Street.


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