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March 1, 2013

Prepped for ISTEP

Students begin testing Monday


> SOUTHERN INDIANA — New Albany-Floyd County Schools

Coming out on top in scores across two counties, New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated Schools have to top their own act this year to stay on top of the list locally.

Rhonda Mull, director of middle schools, said they plan on doing more of the same with classroom strategies and hope to see similar results to last year, posting gains in ELA, math and students passing both subjects.

“Our core mission has stayed the same, so that our course has not changed direction,” Mull said. “Our teachers have continued to work extremely hard and I would say in fine-tuning the skills that they started on three years ago. There really has not been any kind of change in the programming, it’s just been clarifying, fine-tuning and focusing in on the core mission.”

But she said teachers have focused more on helping students learn and understand their class materials by working on more individualized learning plans for each child.

“Teachers have worked harder on the intervention and acceleration,” Mull said. “We get them in a timely and specific way into an acceleration block to get them the help that they need. All of them can learn what’s required, some just need more time and assistance.”

But she said the schools have also worked to prepare for the second phase of testing in April, which puts every student at a computer to answer multiple-choice questions instead of filling in bubbles. She said coordinating computer lab time has been a challenge, but they should have everything worked out by next month.

Greater Clark County Schools

With a new leader at the helm, Greater Clark’s scores could set something of a benchmark for the programs and initiatives Superintendent Andrew Melin has employed since taking the job last summer.

He said while he brings in his own brand of intervention programs to the district, employing some of the strategies that worked for the district before is another key piece to getting students to perform successfully on ISTEP+.

“I think the one thing we’ve tried to do is maintain some of the programs that were in place prior to my arrival that helped improve student achievement,” Melin said. “But also, I hope we increase the ability to focus on individual student interventions. We started our new IMPACT initiative in January so we’re only going to have a few months [of that] under our belt... my hope is that it will be of help to us as we’re trying to improve student achievement.”

Melin said he hopes to see ELA scores increase to 80 percent of students passing district-wide and math scores jump to 82 percent as a district. He said though each represent several percentage points in gain, he thinks the goals are reasonable enough to attain.

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