Middle school student reading data causes concern

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The third report of the STAR reading test data for 2017-2018 students going from fifth grade to sixth grade caused concern and distressed discussion at the June 21 Winters Joint Unified School District board meeting.

The STAR reading test data, as reported through the Renaissance analysis, showed that on average fifth grade students tested at a sixth grade level at the end of the school year, and then started at an average of a fourth grade level at the beginning of sixth grade.

Trustee Michael Olivas said the board has consistently seen this shift in the test data report the last few years.

The STAR reading test data for older students in the middle school also caused concern. At the middle school the average test scores showed growth from the beginning to the end of the year, but not enough growth to make it to the next grade level. Test data at the high school showed students across the board started the year off low, and eventually jumped up to 12th grade level by the end of senior year.

At Waggoner and Shirley Rominger Intermediate schools, students in second through fifth grade took the three STAR Reading tests through out the year. While all grades tested to their grade level, none of them made it to the intended goal by end of the year.

JoAnne May, WJUSD teacher and Winters Area Education Association President, said the summer slide effect happens when children do not read as consistently during the school year, and the data being presented was only one set of data.

“We can use other ways to see growth,” May said.

She mentioned that there are other factors that play into the Renaissance data analysis, such as students leaving mid-year. May said that the student growth percentile can better show growth when you look at the other factors involved, and the information can reflect different depending on what exactly it is you’re looking at.

“We struggle with it (the data) because there isn’t a perfect way to show it (growth),” said May.

Trustee Carrie Green said the way the STAR testing is administered to students could also have an effect. Green said the process and the system currently in place needs to be re-looked at for the middle and high schools.

“The testing is a big deal at the elementary schools. We make a big deal out of it,” Green said. “I don’t know what the processes are at the middle school and the high school, but it might be in the way that we administer these tests.”

Superintendent Todd Cutler agreed that Green may be on to something in needing to motivate older students when it comes to the STAR tests.

“There may be a lack of care with those teenage students,” said Cutler. 

In specification of middle school students, Cutler said they’re experiencing a big shift between elementary school familiarity and transitioning to upcoming high school ways.

Middle school students are dealing with different things in their lives than elementary students,” said Cutler. 

Director of Educational Services Sandra Ayón said her group now has two full years of data to look at and can officially start looking at cohorts as a growth model.

We’re looking at assessments across the whole district, not just this data to see what can we do to get our kids at grade level proficiency,” said Ayon.

Trustee Rudolph Muldong brought up that all the curriculum changes and transitions could have had an affect on students and staff. Ayon agreed, and reminded the board the middle school had just implemented the Amplify curriculum.

As we keep getting new stuff we need to consider how it’s going to affect the learning for our staff to use and teach with it and with students learning how to use it,” said Ayon.

Trustee Olivas requested that next year’s final STAR test data report be done before the schools’ principals leave for the summer break.

“I would like to see this done before our administrators leave for the summer next year,” Olivas said. “There’s four empty chairs there and no one to help explain this.”

Request to raise cafeteria meal prices

Cathy Olson, WJUSD food services director, presented a proposal to raise the price of student meals for the 2018/2019 school year due to an increase in the price of food and labor costs. “We haven’t needed to look at the costs since 2008,” said Olson.

Olson said federal subsidies and the reserve helps to cover costs. The guidance on Paid Lunch Equity helps to make sure the reimbursement for a paid meal is equal to a free meal. “Our reserves have been at a level that it wasn’t prudent to raise, but at what we’re looking at we cannot do it anymore,” said Olson.

Other Items:
~ JoAnne May, WJUSD teacher and Winters Area Education Association President announced that WAEA elections were held the end of May and that officers currently serving were re-elected.
~ The board unanimously approved the Consolidated Application – 2018-19 through 2019-20.
~ Ayon presented the Local Control Accountability Plan(LCAP) for 2017-18 through 2019-2020. She said this is the first year officially as a three year plan. Going forward the board will have to revisit annually and determine spending, success and growth through an annual report. Any changes to the approved LCAP would have to be justified. At the end of 2020 a new LCAP three year plan will be created. The board unanimously approved the presented LCAP.
~ The board unanimously approved the English Language Arts Textbook adoption of the Springboard curriculum for Winters High School.
~ The board unanimously approved joint education services plan for expelled students within Yolo County.
~ The board did not approve a requested extension of a leave of absence for a WJUSD employee.
~ The board unanimously approved the 2018/19 SACS Budget for the general fund #1, Child development fund #12, Cafeteria fund #13, Bond fund #21, Capital facilities fund #25, Health & safety code/Redevelopment agency fund #26, special reserve fund #40 and the Bond interest & redemption fund #51.

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