The Clarke County School Board held their first meeting of the new school year in an extensive session that covered several testing issues as well as performance updates and introduced the new student liaison to the board. Below is an overview of the board’s discussions.
Art Instructor Kathy Campbell addressed the board with an update on the school’s work towards providing art instructional opportunities for students. Superintendent Mike Murphy opened the presentation by saying, “As we move forward from the PAVAN discussion we have received some citizen complaints about lack of programming for the arts and I think there is a lack of understanding about the fact that it is the board’s intent to reinvest in our kids with programming for the arts.” He introduced Ms. Campbell who told the board, “I have talked to all but one of the fine arts teachers in the system and we have all come to a consensus idea of having some kind of summer program, a two-week summer program, which would include a two-night arts festival on Friday and Saturday nights after the two-week session. We will have theater productions, improv, music, and possibly have musical groups come in on Saturday night.”
Campbell added, “The teachers that I have talked to think it is very doable and thought it would actually work better than PAVAN without the transportation issues. The application process for PAVAN was quite complicated for the students and I know that may have kept the numbers down.”
In closing, Ms. Campbell said that she thought there could be a large group of students that would be interested in the new approach.
2012 School Board Student Liaison
The Board also welcomed Clarke County High School senior Evan McKay as the student liaison. McKay addressed the board and presented results from the State of Our Nation’s Youth survey which is conducted by The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. McKay participated in a panel for the survey and presented some of the information to the board for their consideration. He said the survey found that many students were apprehensive about the prospect of paying for college. It also indicated that students found that despite taking more advanced coursework during high school, a considerable share of college-enrolled students reported they needed remediation classes during college to reinforce the IB and AP high school classes. McKay ended on a brighter note and said that most students felt the schools were doing a better job at teaching. When students were asked nationwide to rate the quality of their schools, today’s high school students gave their schools a grade of an A, reflecting modest improvements over previous years.
McKay added that within Clarke County, students seem satisfied with the schools and are particularly pleased with the new high school facility. McKay closed by saying, “On behalf of the student body of Clarke County High School I would like to thank the school board for all you have done.”
IB Test Results
International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) test results were also presented to the board for review. Mr. Thom Potts presented the results from the May 2012 tests for IB diploma candidates. There were only six students who enrolled for the diploma and one student who was re-testing, so the results were based on a pool of 7 students. Potts attributed the small number to the the last vestiges of the elementary acceleration model that combined grades in Clarke County. He indicated that many of this group’s classmates received their IB Diploma the year before, “So we had a year where we had a much smaller group than we typically do.” He pointed out that this year there are 20 students enrolled and 22 for the following year. Based on the group of 7, the district achieved a 71% success rate for students who earned a 4 or better.
Berryville District Board Member Jim Brinkmeier questioned how colleges viewed a score of 4 on a 1 to 7 scale. “Is four good to universities?” Potts said that all schools view the scores differently, but that most would consider a 4 as a respectable result.
AP Test Results
Dr. Jeff Jackson presented AP results. Eighty-one students were enrolled in AP classes last year which included Calculus, Statistics, U.S. Government, and Virtual Virginia courses. For students to be eligible for college credit they must take the AP exam. Of the 81 students that enrolled, only 14 took the test for credit and of those, 12 earned a score of 3 or higher on a 5 point scale. Representative Schutte questioned Jackson why so few elected to take the test. Dr. Jackson put it simply, “We do not pay the cost of taking the test, so we cannot compel them to take it.” The timing of sign-ups and several other factors were also listed as possible contributing factors. Dr. Jackson did point out that AP enrollment has increased dramatically and said that this year there are already 126 students enrolled in AP course.
ACT results were also addressed as an accomplishment in the district. The ACT represents an additional or alternative to the SAT test for college entry, but the ACT is taken by very few college bound graduates. In Clarke, students who did take the ACT scored above the state and national average score. See results here.
AYP versus AMO
Clarke County Public Schools continue to wrestle with the ever changing ramifications of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver. At last night’s meeting, Division Director of Testing (DDOT), Ed Shewbridge gave updates on the replacement accountability measures that are coming down from the Virginia Department of Education. Virginia no longer issues Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) ratings. Now, Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) will be reported. This approach breaks the student population into sub-groups that will be measured and each will will have an AMO target to meet. Under NCLB all students and all subgroups had to meet 100% proficiency by the year 2014. With AMO, the groups are split into units that will allow different achievement targets. This will help ensure data can be analyzed more effectively to drive curriculum decisions. Also, a large representative group will not have a negative impact on the overall scores for the school or district. New AMO achievement targets are shown below.