Griffith educators tackle disappointing test scores

2014-02-01T18:45:00Z 2014-03-26T16:04:58Z Griffith educators tackle disappointing test scoresCharles F. Haber Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 01, 2014 6:45 pm  • 

GRIFFITH | Griffith school administrators are putting an immediate remediation plan in place to improve disappointing student test scores.

The plan was outlined during at special meeting Thursday attended by more than 200 parents and teachers. Much of the plan focused on Griffith Middle School, which received a D from the state.

The Indiana Department of Education last month gave letter grades of A to Beiriger and Wadsworth elementary schools, while Ready Elementary School and Griffith High School received a C.

Shortly after receiving the news of disappointing test scores Dec. 20, administrators met with teachers to obtain their input.

Brian Orkis, principal of the middle school, and Dustin Nelson, middle school associate principal, outlined the improvement plan.

The emphasis is on remediation time and improving the transition of students from the elementary levels into the seventh grade.

An advocacy program also is planned to help students prepare for college, Nelson said.

"I'm very excited about this" because it stresses what employers will be expecting in the future, he said.

To make room for the advocacy program, Nelson said a recommendation will be made to trim the classes to 48 minutes next school year.

This would create 19 free minutes for the program without extending the school day, he said.

Superintendent Pete Morikis said the remediation steps will begin now and continue developing in the future.

The process involves identifying which students need help with their math and English skills and placing them into smaller groups.

The program also involves "data coaches" who will help determine what areas to focus on.

All the students, regardless of their test scores, will get extra attention in English, language arts and math, Morikis said.

The state-assigned letter grades are based, in part, on student growth — the amount of improvement students are expected to show in their ISTEP+ scores from one year to the next, said Aron Borowiak, director of curriculum and instruction.

"Growth has been our problem the past couple of years," he said.

Borowiak said if only two more students had given one more correct answer, the middle school would have received a C in English.

He said the school would have received a C in math if just three additional students answered one more question correctly.

One parent, Don Hill, told the board that this is not an acceptable excuse.

"That fact is they didn’t do better," he said. "The final result is a poor rating for our schools, and somebody needs to be held accountable."

Hill said the remediation plan looks like something that was just "made up a week ago."

But Morikis is pleased with the proposal.

"I think we have a tremendous plan in place and have good, hard-working teachers," Morikis said. "Our goal is to provide every kid with the help and assistance they need."

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