Most SH students’ scores above national average
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Tami Geltmaker, the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for the South Harrison Community School Corp., presented updates on district educational matters at the board of trustees’ meeting on Nov. 10.
In prior monthly meetings, board members had expressed concerns for the quality of education for students having to adapt to forms of virtual learning so quickly, especially younger kids.
However, Geltmaker seemed optimistic during her presentation that the kids were doing better than many would assume. She showcased each grade level’s scores on the NWEA test and compared it to the national average.
The presentation also included the percentage of students in each grade level predicted to pass the ILEARN/SAT test in the future.
A promising and uplifting note from Geltmaker was that most grades were above their 2019 scores and the national averages. However, there were a few grades performing under the 50th percentile for the NWEA test.
One area that struggled with this was the math scores of fifth, sixth and seventh graders in the district.
In the reading and language arts area, 10th-grade scores were a bit down as well.
These were areas she said the teachers are going to focus on in the rest of the school year to try to bring them back up to the state average.
At a previous meeting, Geltmaker explained to the board that a lot of students attending school virtually were receiving failing grades and that the school corporation intended to encourage the students to return to school. She noted that 127 students have come back throughout the district to attend school in person, taking the district from 17% virtual students to about 13.5%. She also noted they have seen improvements in grades of those students who have come back to attending school in person.
One area that both Geltmaker and Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of the school corporation, said the district needs to focus on is encouraging students in the special education program to return to school due to their large number of failing grades.
“I think the more we can get kids back in the classroom, the more we will see the number of those failing grades drop,” Geltmaker said. “I think our principals are going to have to have a serious conversation regarding retention in January with these students if we can’t start making changes.”
In other business at the meeting, the board unanimously approved the school calendar for the 2021-22 school year with details on make-up dates pending. The first day of school will be Aug. 2 for staff and Aug. 3 for students. The last day of classes will be May 26, 2022, for students and May 27 for teachers.
Eastridge offered his praises for board members and all South Harrison district staff for continuing to push through this year. He said his hope is to keep students in the classroom as much as possible, but that every decision has been made on a case-by-case basis.
“With many instances of a COVID case, we are able to track down where it came from and who it has possibly spread to,” Eastridge said. “If we see a large spread, we are equipped for a virtual format, but everything is being handled on a school-specific basis. Everything is fluid, but I remain in close contact with the health department to ensure we are doing the right thing.”
The board of trustees are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m.