Common Core plans presented at school board meeting
The Hudson Board of Education met last week and, among other things, highlighted two initiatives: Common Core and SMART Goal results. A report also highlighted the success of the Advanced Placement at Hudson High School.
Common Core was adopted by the state of Wisconsin in June 2010. Wisconsin became the 45th state to adopt the initiative meaning local school districts are directed to implement the new standards. Although the standards have raised some concerns nationwide, especially by conservative groups, local educators spoke highly of the initiative at Tuesday's meeting.
Learning Services Director Sandy Kovatch emphasized that what is taught is still determined at the local level.
"Common Core gives school districts a clearer standard as to what should be accomplished," Kovatch said.
The standards are being planned locally for English language arts and mathematics.
She compared the program to a house under construction. Common Core provides the foundation; state standards, assessments, and curricula framework provides the house frame; and district curricula, assessments and instruction provide the finishing work.
Kovatch presented samples of Common Core instructions for various grade levels. For example, eighth-grade English Language Arts from the old 1998 state standard read: Compare, contrast, and evaluate the relative accuracy and usefulness of information from different sources.
The new Common Core standards read: Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.
The Common Core initiative also includes processes for evaluation and effectiveness of schools and educators.
Several local principals presented a report to the board on the progress of SMART Goals (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic & Timely) in the Hudson. The local district implemented the goals a number of years ago with the intention of reaching higher levels of student learning and success in the future.
Results at the elementary level were presented to the board by principals Amy Hamborg (Rock Elementary), Susie Prather (Prairie Elementary) and Dolf Schmidt (North Hudson Elementary). Presenting on behalf of the secondary schools were middle school Principal Dan Koch and high school Principal Peg Shoemaker. System Improvement Director Dave Grambow also talked about SMART Goals.
"We set our goals last October," Grambow said. "We continue to see student improvements."
Hamborg said that SMART Goals in reading at the elementary level have been in place four years and there has been improvement every year. Writing was added as a goal last year.
Because it was the first year, Hamborg said a lofty goal was set at 80 percent. The final number came in at 67 percent of K-5 students independently demonstrated their grade level proficiency on the district-wide narrative continuum for writing. The teachers said the numbers will give them a base for future goals.
At the middle school level, Koch said the number of students meeting or exceeding their growth target on the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) MAP will result in the school performing at or above the 90th percentile.
At the high school level, Schoemaker said SMART goals involve personal responsibility, academic success and improved college readiness. She said 88 percent of freshmen and sophomores met the following indicators:
--95 percent attendance or better.
--Earn at least six credits this year (on track for graduation).
--Report they have one adult in the school they feel comfortable talking with.
--Have zero discipline referrals.
She also reported that by July 2013 there will be a 10 percent increase in the number of students taking courses in which college credit is available. The school also has an AP (Advance Placement) passing rate of 80 percent or better.
SMART Goals for the upcoming school year will be determined in October.
The Advanced Placement courses at the high school continue to grow. AP courses allow high school students to take classes that are eligible for college credit. Grambow said that 427 students took 787 AP tests in May 2013. Those numbers have grown dramatically in the past five years (209 students in 2008). Hudson is well above the state and national numbers for AP participation and success.
Financial Services Director Tim Erickson said that a blackboard was removed from a wall at the high school and it was determined that a small amount of asbestos was in the adhesive.
"The amount was small and not prone to be air-borne," Erickson said. "But, we still had to go through the process of sealing the room, shut down the air circulation and hire to have the testing and removal performed."
He called the board removal as "unauthorized" and reminded employees to not remove blackboards from walls.
Erickson also reported that the school had significant damage during the storms in late June. Among the damages were a roof at the high school, water damage, gym floor damage, downed trees, backstop damage at a field and siding at the middle school.
He said most of the damage was covered by insurance. The district is responsible for a $10,000 deductible and $6,000 in debris removal. Of the $16,000, however, the district is eligible to receive a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA and 15 percent from the state, leaving the district with $1,600 out-of-pocket.
@t:Board President Tom Holland said the district takes safety and security very seriously and is doing everything within the district's power to make buildings as safe as possible.
"We've worked in the past three years to secure entrances at all schools and improve technology," Holland said.
Erickson said the district is "ahead of the curve" and had a campus walk-through with law enforcement officials last spring. He said they continue to work on plans to prevent crises and develop response plans.
Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten thanked the Knights of Columbus for a recent gift of $1,081.78. The funds are from the organization's annual Tootsie Roll sale. They are to be used to benefit students with cognitive disabilities for needs not otherwise supported by school funds.
Board members present at the meeting were Sandy Gehrke, Bruce Hanson, Jamie Johnson, Brian Bell and Tom Holland; absent were Lynn Robson and Dan Tjornehoj.