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Monday, March 08, 2021
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Rural Community School board hears plans about testing

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At its monthly meeting on Monday, the Rural Community Schools, Inc.
board of directors heard an update from Jennifer Wall, Chief Academics
Officer, about the state of testing done by the Northwest Evaluation
Association.

“Over the course of a school year, students in grades K-8 are given
the NWEA test three times (in the fall, winter, and spring),” she
said. “These tests give data on how students in grades K-8 are
preforming in reading and math. It also gives data on how students in
grades 2-8 are doing in language skills.

“Because we take this test multiple times within the school year, we
can track students' growth from one testing window to the next. We can
also track a student’s growth from one year to the next.”

She added that students completed the second testing window before
winter break and that teachers took a half day away from the classroom
to sift through students’ scores, looking at: Class strengths and
weaknesses; achievement and growth levels of each student and how to
change instruction in the classroom based on the data from the test.
She added their school-wide goal for this year is twofold:

• Teachers understand how to read and understand the data from the test.

• Teachers use the data collected on their students to inform their
instruction in the classroom.

“We will take another look at classroom data after our spring test
session with the hope that we see student growth in the areas where
teachers have used the data to inform their instruction,” she said.
“At our next board meeting, one of our teachers will be sharing how
this information has impacted how she sets up her classroom.”

Board president Susie Pierce said NWEA testing works better than ISTEP
because it shows where students fail and succeed on every question.

“It is a lot better for students and teachers,” Pierce said.

The board heard from Derek Grant, Chief Operations Officer, on various subjects.

“The bus inspections have been completed,” he said. “We have one bus
that is currently under repairs and we hope to have that completed
soon.”

He added that all the bus drivers have completed their licensing
requirements and have received their yellow cards.

He informed the board they have found another potential bus driver who
could be hired soon.

"They are hard to find,” he said.

Grant informed the board that they are holding their own with any
COVID-19 related issues.

“Sullivan County metrics are RED which means only parents can attend
sporting events,”  he said. “We have some kids being quarantined for
contact tracing. The best thing about it for the kids is that
switching from in-person to virtual learning has become pretty
seamless.

“We are sanitizing, social distancing and hoping for the best.”

Wall and Grant both said that staff evaluations had been completed,
but Pierce informed them to make sure they have been signed.

Grant told the board about Master Calendar Reporting Requirements.

“I have to upload documents to Ball State by the 15th of every month,”
he said. “That includes our quarterly budget.”

Pierce informed board members that they were trying to comply with new
regulations set forth by the State Board of Accounts, including making
daily cash deposits.

“That is just not feasible for us,” said Pierce. “We have put in a
request with Ball State to make sure the new requirements take into
account the differences between charter schools and regular schools.
The points of emphasis are mostly about methodology.”

Pierce informed the board that the Charter Renewal Process is very detailed.

“Because of everything that has happened because of COVID-19, we have
been granted a one-year charter renewal.”

Grant told the board that basketball and archery seasons are underway.

“We have played one game (basketball) and have a few more scheduled
for next week,” he said. “We will be participating in the State
Qualifying Archery Tournament at Sullivan on Feb. 6. That will likely
be our only tournament, but we have several kids that have a chance to
go to state.”

Pierce told the board they are moving forward with their Marketing
Plan, which will emphasize “small is better.”

The Christmas program has been rescheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 5 and will
be livestreamed on Facebook.

The board accepted the resignation of librarian Valerie Reed and
approved Ashley Trotter as her replacement.

The next board meeting will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 16.


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