School board reviews test scores, approves retirements

The Flandreau school board continued their discussion of standardized test scores at their meeting on April 10.

During their October meeting, school board members and educators discussed at length the Smarter Balanced and Dakota STEP test scores from the 2015-2016 school year.

The dialogue centered around how the Flandreau Public School proficient and advanced scores compare to the average scores of the state.

Students are tested in the areas of English/language arts, science and math; the scores in math averaging noticeably lower in Flandreau than across South Dakota.

In January, grades 3-8 and the sophomores were given an interim test, like the Smarter Balanced assessment which was implemented three years ago.

The board reviewed these test results at their April meeting and saw the scores, particularly math, still showed low percentages of students scoring proficient and advanced.

One contributing factor to the low scores discussed might be that with the new Common Core Standards in the state, students have to provide an explanation of how they got an answer on the math assessment.

Laura Peters, seventh and eighth grade math teacher, said students do not like having to write for math questions. Some left the area blank, used improper grammar or put inappropriate answers, all of which require a dock in points.

Something else to consider is the way students have to take the Smarter Balanced test: on technology. Elementary students have iPads, middle school students have Chromebooks and high schoolers have laptops.

To explain how they got answers on a math questions, Peters said several students had to scroll back a number of screens to find their work.

On the reading assessment, the test provided up to three stories before any questions, again requiring students to scroll back to find the answers.

Middle school principal Brian Relf said the kids want instant answers. Some might leave a number of questions blank if they can’t quickly find them.

“Unfortunately, our school is in much better shape than what these scores are showing as far as our teachers and helping our students,” Relf said. “But we look at the data and it says otherwise.”

Darren Hamilton, school board president, said that comment is what he wants to hear, but he doesn’t see the evidence.

The school board, administration and teaching staff will continue to have conversations on how to improve the standardized test scores while keeping in mind what factors could affect the students performance on the assessments.

In other action, the Flandreau

school board

approved for grades K-5 to have three class sections each and grade 6 to have two sections. A middle school Title teacher will also be added.

approved for the school to pay for substitute teacher’s background checks starting on July 1, 2017.

approved changing the minimal savings for refunding the Series 2013 certificates to $290,000.

approved J & P Roofing Systems out of Dell Rapids to reroof the high school area along with alternates 1 and 2 for $315,822.

approved the resignation of Denise Johnson as concession supervisor.

approved the retirement of Diane Johnson as an elementary Title teacher and Roger Johnson middle school custodian.

approved the following stipends for ACT prep: Elizabeth Beall ($50), Melissa Opsahl ($200) and Gail Veldkamp ($100).

approved for Quam and Berglin to conduct the 2016-17 school audit.

approved Dan Hall as technology/business teacher with basketball coaching duties to be determined later.

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