School improvement plans were approved by the Eastern Pulaski School Board Monday, according to Superintendent Dan Foster. He says each school’s plan tries to identify some areas of concern, as well as strengths.
“I think there was a little bit of concern in some Math,” Foster says. “One of the grade levels didn’t perform quite as well as we had hoped. And I think one class, maybe, at the middle school didn’t perform quite as well in English/Language Arts as what we would’ve anticipated. So we’re just trying to look at those and saying, ‘Okay, are groups of students missing certain types of information?’ And if groups of students are, then we have to look at what we’re doing.”
But Foster says continuing changes in state testing are once again making it difficult to track students’ progress. “This year, again, the ISTEP from last year is very difficult to compare to anything because the ISTEP the year before was different and, of course, we’ll have the ILEARN this year,” he explains. “So we’re going to have three years in a row that comparing those three tests to each other aren’t really going to do much.”
That’s why Eastern Pulaski officials are looking at several different data points, according to Foster, and not just ISTEP scores. “I wish the state would do that when they do the letter grades and stuff,” Foster says. “But internally, when we use NWEA, you get a beginning-of-the-year, a mid-year, and an end-of-the-year assessment, so you can see the progress that student’s making during the course of that year, which, to us, makes a whole lot more sense than one test at the end of the year and then you get results two, three, four months later.”
Foster says Eastern Pulaski has great staff at all three of its schools, and they will continue to try to do what’s best for the kids. The school improvement plans are due to the state today.