SHERIDAN — The Sheridan County School District 2 Board received updates from the district’s elementary school principals Monday night at their regular board meeting, as to how they plan to improve student scores on annual state PAWS tests.
“We do that every year,” said Tom Sachse, SCSD 2 assistant superintendent for curriculum and assessment. “I present the district results, but each individual principal is responsible for presenting their own school’s results and for being very explicit on how they are going to improve for the next year.”
Sachse said the reporting to the board is mandatory for each district school and the board will hear from secondary school principals at the November board meeting.
“These are my favorite two meetings of the year, because the principals do a really nice job of explaining why the results came in where they did and how they are going to improve on them,” he said. “It is very substantial and each one does a really good job of representing their school.”
Sachse said he was pleased with the results from each school. Although Story School did not report results, due to the small number of students making it possible for individual students to be identified, Sachse said they are in their third year of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading.
“Overall they were really very strong,” he said, about the PAWS scores. “We had one minor blip in Sagebrush in third grade where the students didn’t meet the state average in reading and math. Other than that, all the schools had really solid results.”
Additionally, he said among the nine other 4A districts in the state, SCSD 2 consistently reports the highest scores.
However, during the meeting, Sachse did inform the board that there were some “misses” in targets towards achieving compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act.
“Under No Child Left Behind, which started back in 2002, in 12 years we wanted to have 100 percent of students proficient on state exams,” Sachse said. “In 2013 our targets were approximately 83 percent so by spring of 2014 you would want to see that up to 100 percent but we had three situations where we didn’t meet the targets.”
He said targets were missed in proficiency for special education students on a districtwide level, for special education students in third through fifth grades at Sagebrush Elementary and the graduation target rate at Fort Mackenzie High School.
“We are aggressively responding to each of these issues,” Sachse said. “This is a district that takes these very seriously and we are going to work toward these targets that have been set for us.”
To address the proficiency issue for special education students, Sachse said new teachers have been hired that already have advanced training and experience with special education. In addition, the district will provide advanced training for current staff working with special education students.
At FMHS, Sachse said the district has introduced new hands-on programs that allow students to create and produce applications of their learning. In addition, the district is beginning a two-year program with Sheridan College to examine areas for partnership between FMHS and the college.
Sachse said this is the fourth time FMHS has failed to meet the AYP. The graduation rate last year was 60 percent, with a target of 80 percent. However, despite the lower than hoped for graduation rate, Sachse noted that while some students are failing to graduate, the students who do graduate are performing very highly.
“One thing I did point out is that they needed to balance their understanding of missing the graduation target for a very at-risk population at Fort Mackenzie with an ACT composite score of 22.6, which was the highest high school performance in the state,” Sachse noted. “This is a school that has very rigorous expectations for students.”