After changes, one Minooka grade school makes AYP
BY KRIS STADALSKY Correspondent August 25, 2013 9:56PM
Second-grade teacher Katie Krempasky works with students in a literacy group at Walnut Trails, a Minooka Grade School District facility. Great teachers and willing students helped the school earn a state Academic Excellence Award three consecutive years.
Updated: September 27, 2013 6:10AM
Last year, Minooka Community Consolidated Grade School District reported that five of its seven schools had made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as determined by ISAT testing for the 2012 school year. The two that didn’t fell short in special-education students and students who qualify for free and reduced lunch programs not meeting standards.
But with new and higher expectations built into the ISAT test by the state, only one District 201 school made the grade for the 2013 school year.
Minooka Elementary School was the only one to make AYP, Assistant Supt. Steph Palaniuk said. Jones Elementary missed in just one area, he said.
“It’s excellent considering the new cut scores,” Palaniuk said.
While Minooka Elementary did not make AYP last year, the opposite is true for Walnut Trails, which scored high last year, Palaniuk said.
“When you apply the new cut scores, (Walnut Trails) just didn’t make it,” he said.
The Illinois State Board of Education has changed how the ISAT is scored, implementing higher expectations for elementary and middle schools to meet the new Common Core Standards, according to the ISBE website. The change is similar to changing a grading scale, the board explained in a fact sheet.
“Your student will have to score higher in order to meet or exceed standards,” it said. “As a result students who previously met standards will now be classified as needing improvement.”
The AYP scores are not an indication that students are learning less, according to both Palaniuk and the ISBE.
“The test is substantially different and substantially more complex in material,” Palaniuk said. “It’s like day and night.”
One thing that Minooka 201 teachers do to help students with state testing is create and administer their own local assessment tests under the direction of Palaniuk, Supt. Al Gegenheimer said.
“The results of these tests help teachers identify areas to focus instruction on in order for children to meet or exceed standards,” Gegenheimer said. “As you might imagine this can be a difficult task, aligning assessments to specific skills.”
Palaniuk said he stands behind the district’s efforts, the way educators tailor-make education for each student.
He referenced fifth-grade teacher Sarah White at Minooka Intermediate, who has a wide range of special-education students in her classroom, with varying degrees of abilities.
White approached Palaniuk asking to set up special activity groups to help each individual student. While the program requires more time management on the teacher’s part, it has been successful for the students.
“Every one of her students met or exceeded (state standards),” Palaniuk said. “These types of teachers are doing things necessary to meet the kids where they are.”