'State of the Schools' at Freeport BOE meeting
(Page 2 of 3)
Mr. Poole then illustrated the change in testing results: Freeport students averaged 63, 74 and 82% level 3 or 4 (meeting or exceeding state standards) in the years 2007-2009 for English and 80, 89 and 92% for math for the same three years. The years 2010-12 saw new cut scores (scores required for level 3 and 4) changes in test length, design and “rigor” (in a word, harder tests) and the averages went to 65, 65 and 65% for math for 2010-2012 and 54, 49 and 53% for English the same three years.
Cut to 2013 – The average level 3 and 4 in ELA for the district is 22%, the average in math 17%. The same cohort (group of children) who were at 91% ELA and 97% math as fourth graders in 2009 were at 29% ELA and 12% math as eighth graders in 2013.
Mr. Poole noted that although the number have declined, the ranking of the district among comparable districts has not changed. This is why he suggested that comparing this year’s results to previous years was not a useful exercise in light of the changes in length and difficulty.
With the benchmark therefore being established, Mr. Poole then outlined steps being taken to improve student performance, including:
• Review student performance to identify where help is needed.
• Targeted small group afterschool programs to better support students.
• Continue professional development.
• Increase writing opportunities in each grade.
• Implement a new Common Core aligned curriculum “Go Math.”
• Continue to host workshops for parents to help them help their children.
Dr. Kuncham then called on James Robinson, Executive Director for Business, to give a snapshot of the budget issues to be dealt with in November and December, when the budget process begins in earnest.
Many of the same stresses that have been there in the past (pension costs, health insurance, transportation, special ed) and may come up in the future , such as tax certiorari liabilities and PARCC (a program requiring more expenditure for computer equipment) have made budgeting difficult. In spite of this the district tax levy has averaged +2.06% and the budget +2.29% since 2009, and per pupil expenditures are below the county average.