ICC airs plans to boost grad rates, test scores

KINDERHOOK– Ichabod Crane School District administrators presented their plans to raise graduation rates and standardized test scores in the district at the school board meeting Tuesday, January 9.

The plan, which is part of what the administrators are calling Rider Goals 2021, is to increase graduation rates by 1% each year, getting it up from 90% to 95% in 5 years. Suzanne Guntlow, the district’s principal for APPR (annual professional performance reviews), and High School Principal Craig Shull told the board that a 1% increase means having one or two more students graduate. Mr. Shull pointed out that the freshman class this year has 120 students, so one additional graduate would achieve the 1% goal.

Mr. Shull said that the faculty and administrators are watching kids in high school who are struggling to graduate. He also said that they will be looking at students in middle school who are struggling.

Middle and Elementary School Principal Tim Farley told the board that in his building the administration is “really targeting the students that need extra help.” He said school personnel “have a slew of interventions.”

The discussion also addressed Regents exam grades and state standardized tests in grades 3 through 8. Ms. Guntlow said that the district already has a very high passing rates for the Regents exams and the school will try to increase mastery levels–a grade of 85 or higher.

A board member asked whether Ichabod Crane had enough students taking the state standardized tests in the lower grades to be able to draw conclusions from the test results. Ms. Guntlow replied that administrators were able to use the data from those tests even though only 34% of the eligible students took the exams. She said the rate of students “opting out”–refusing to take the tests–is decreasing as the state makes changes to the exams.

“There have been a lot of positive changes,” said Mr. Farley about that tests in the lower grades.

Primary School Principal Andrea Williams talked about interventions, especially for students who are struggling with reading. The goal in the lower grades is to increase students reading at or above grade level in kindergarten through 5th grade by 5%.

Ms. Williams, who is in her first year in the district, also said that having Rider Goals program has been very helpful to her as a new administrator.

The board tabled officially approving the Rider Goals after a few board members said they wanted to review them and that they had more questions. Superintendent Micheal Vanyo said the board would have more time at later meetings to review the goals again.

Board member Tammy Crawford said she fully supported the proposed goals program. “It’s done wonderful things,” she said of the creation of the goals and the plans to move forward.

Also at the meeting:

• The board heard a presentation from Questar III/BOCES District Superintendent Gladys Cruz about the programs it offers the district. She also pointed out the there have been several changes in administrative staff in the 23 public school districts Questar III works with. She said that in the last five years there have been ten new superintendents, eighty-eight new school board members and fifty-six new principals. She said that Questar was offering training for administrators and superintendents due to the heavy turnover and “many retirements on the horizon.”

Superintendent Cruz said that the Ichabod Crane Central School District has purchased $3.8 million in services from Questar and for every dollar spent the district receives 44 cents back in state aid.

She and Questar Deputy Superintendent Matthew Sloane talked about the programs offered for district’s students, especially career education programs. They plan to open up classes in using heavy equipment, training for the human services fields, coding and robotics and health technician services soon

• The board heard presentations for the Art Department and a report about the Fall Sports Athletics Participation report

• The board began preliminary review of the proposed 2018-19 school budget. District Business Manager Michael Brennan said that the numbers the board was looking at were very tentative since he did not know any state aid amounts or “the price for things we are going to purchase.”

The next regular board meeting will be on Tuesday, February 6 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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