The Vandalia School Board last week heard from Superintendent Rich Well that though progress is being made, the district did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress in 2010 standardized test scores.
The district’s scores were 71.8 percent in reading and 74.2 percent in math. The state standard – which goes up each year by 7.5 percent – is currently 77.5 percent, and next year it will rise to 85 percent. The state’s goal is to have 100 percent of the state’s students meeting the standards by 2014.
“We have shown some improvement in several areas,” Well said after the meeting. “Reading is the area we’re really jumping into. We’re putting some money into training for teachers. In fact, we have 15 training dates between now and May – seven for teachers in grades K-4 and eight for teachers in grades 5-8. Five dates were already done for high school teachers.”
Randy Protz, principal at Vandalia Community High School, said scores at the high school are going up, though they still fell short of state standards. The composite reading score for VCHS students was 42.9 percent, while the composite math score was 45.7 percent. Again, the state goal is 77.5 percent.
“Overall, we showed some improvement from last year,” he said when contacted this week. “It shows our teachers that the changes we’ve made are working. Each year, we look at the data and see what changes we need to make to tweak the curriculum.
“By testing students each year, we can see what we need to work on. Before, we didn’t know but now we have current data on students who are still in school. We’ll test freshmen and sophomores in January, and we’ll have the results in March; that way, we can make changes to respond.”
Among the changes made at the high school are adjustments in the English curriculum and after-school sessions for students who need additional work in English and math.
“We want our students to be prepared when they leave our building,” Protz said.
As part of the annual testing, juniors at VCHS take the ACT test. The composite score for district students last spring was 18.8, Well said.
At Vandalia Junior High School, Principal Rod Grimsley agreed that it’s difficult to keep up with state standards when the target scores keep increasing each year.
“The junior high didn’t make Annual Yearly Progress goals due to two sub groups – economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities,” Grimsley said when contacted this week.
“We will provide extra support and intervention for any student that did not make state standards in reading and math. We want to get them up to grade level by the next test. We know where our weaknesses are in student performance, and we’re trying to address those.”
Grimsley said that students not making the state standards will be pulled out of some humanities classes for enrichment activities in math and reading.
Overall scores at the junior high show that 80.3 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in reading (compared to the state average of 77 percent). In math, the overall score at VJHS was 78.8 percent (slightly over the state average of 77 percent).
Well said that while the standardized tests – the Illinois Standards Assessment Test (for grades 3-8) and the Prairie State Achievement Evaluation (for 11th graders) – are important, they don’t tell the whole story.
“They will not accurately measure what is going on in a district,” Well said. “Many quality programs are untested and provide a great service to our students and community.”
He also pointed to a lengthy list of district initiatives to improve the learning atmosphere and the test scores.
Parent/teacher conferences are scheduled this Thursday and Friday at Vandalia Elementary School and Jefferson Primary School. Those conferences run from 3-6 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon on Friday. Classes will not be held in the district on Friday.
The board heard reports from building principals, telling about the activities going on in their schools.