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School board hears concerns

Kelly Silva

— The Steamboat Springs School Board heard four major concerns of each School Accountability Committee goals at Monday night’s study session.

Pat Gleason, District Accountability Committee chairwoman, addressed the board with issues such as defining terms for audit teams and schools; a database system that would follow a student’s or a class’ progress throughout their school career; a change in the minimum goal set for testing; and the North Routt Charter School’s involvement in creating the school goals.

School Board President Dan Birch said he wasn’t too concerned with the charter school only because this is the first year the establishment is up and running.

However, District Superintendent Cyndy Simms and Gleason agreed to disagree that percentage numbers should be raised or lowered according to the results of testing every year.

For instance, if Strawberry Park first-grade students performed at 89 percent in reading and their maintenance level was 80 percent, Gleason said he thinks the maintenance level should increase.

Simms said the district has diverted resources and attention when one area is strong only to focus on another area of improvement. However, that doesn’t imply the area not focused on will go down in scores, she said.

“Eighty percent is a high goal. It’s a challenge. If (schools) feel success, they’re going to maintain it,” said Jerry Buelter, middle school assistant principal.

The district also does not have a technological way of looking back on a student’s history or that of a particular class. Gleason said this is imperative to the well-being of the district.

“We’re starting to have a body of evidence. We have data now from four to five years on kids, their progress and classes,” Gleason said. “We need to have a way to feed that back into the system from student to student, class to class, year to year.”

Although the technology commission under the Education Fund Board has dabbled with creating a software system that would provide for this problem, School Board Vice President Paul Fisher said standardized and less expensive software may be developed soon.

“We ought to be able to do it. It’s a valuable tool and we have those funds available,” Gleason said.

Goals for each school every year are based on audit reports from teams of adults assessing the schools.

Because audit teams had a difficult time defining “success/self-realization” for each grade, Gleason said the term might need to be clearer.

“If the board wants to use that as an educational cornerstone, you’re going to have to come up with a (better) definition,” Gleason said.

Board members voiced understanding and sympathy but will not rid of the category in the evaluation of each grade level in the district.

“It isn’t an acceptable solution to eliminate it as a goal,” Fisher said. “I think it is an issue; it always has been.”

Birch recommended the district define the term more clearly; however, Simms said the administrators and each School Accountability Committee have struggled with defining the term and need the board to implement clarity.

The board will decide on whether to implement the school goals set by the committees at the Oct. 15 school board regular meeting.


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