Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Board approves Algebra I textbooks, eliminates tests for K-1
Among the most positive signs:
-The board approved Algebra I textbooks for the high school. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a return to more textbooks in the classroom. The decision by the Huff Administration and the previous board of education to place all of its bets on computers has shortchanged Joplin students.
-At the request of kindergarten and first grade teachers, those classes will no longer be given the NWEA standardized tests. That was a big change from a year ago when the district agreed to spend approximately $300,000 over a three-year period for the tests, which are given three times a year. While the NWEA covers the elementary, middle school, and high school grades that were previously covered by McGraw-Hill's Acuity tests, Executive Director of Elementary Instruction Jennifer Doshier touted NWEA because its testing also includes kindergarten through second grade, which were not tested by Acuity. This year, Doshier changed her tune, explaining that the tests for the younger students were DEVELOPMENTALLY INAPPROPRIATE (the capital letters are taken directly from the power point presentation by Doshier)
-You couldn't convince Angie Besendorfer or C. J. Huff, but the distractions of bright sunlight pouring through the Joplin High School windows have caused problems since the school opened. The board agreed to spend $41,008 to tint the windows.
Not all of the signs were positive, however. Though, kindergartners and first graders will be excluded from NWEA tests, they are still going to be given to students in the other grades, on the idea, also being pushed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, that we have to have more and more data. Dosshier, two principals, and two teachers, sang the praises of NWEA, in a scene reminiscent of a few months ago when Doshier, former Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens, and other true believers talked (and talked and talked) about how wonderful the Core Collaborative consulting group was. If there are any teachers or principals who have serious reservations about NWEA, they are obviously not going to be the ones chosen to make the presentations. Instead, Joplin will follow the example of schools across the country that are sacrificing instructional time on the altar of testing and data.
In other action, the board:
-Learned that security fencing will be placed around modular classrooms at Columbia, Jefferson, and Kelsey Norman elementary schools.
-Approved the bid for demolition of a parking lot at Irving Elementary.