Greencastle students top state average on ISTEP

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Greencastle students in grades 3-10 performed better than state average in the math portion of the state's standardized testing this past fall.

"The results give us many causes for celebration," coordinator Dawn Puckett told the Greencastle School Board at its monthly meeting.

But she noted there is still room for improvement in Greencastle ISTEP scores.

The comparison with state averages in language arts showed that six of the eight grades tested in Greencastle were better than their counterparts elsewhere. And the two grades that were not above average were only 1 percent below the median mark.

In the science portion of the test, students in grades 5 and 7, the only grades tested, figured well above the state average.

Greencastle school board members Mike Dean, Jack Berry, Barbara Bryan and Mark Kannowski got their first look at the results comparison on Wednesday.

Puckett said the educational staff will use the results to identify needs in student learning, and to tailor instruction to students.

Meanwhile, Supt. Robert Green told the board that the Energy Education program that the school district embarked on in July 2006 has saved $133,003 through the end of 2007.

That is roughly a 16 percent savings in energy costs, Green said, and that could increase to 26-28 percent for this year.

As board member Berry pointed out, the point of the energy program is to change behavior to conserve energy where possible, and thereby cut energy costs.

"And we are doing that," Green said.

In fact, in a review of utility bills, program coordinator Mike Schimpf saw that the school district had been paying state sales tax on some bills. The state was notified and a refund was requested, and the state sent the school corporation a check for $36,000.

In a policy matter, the school board decided that students will not be allowed to "opt out" of a portion of a class on the basis that the subject conflicts with the student's beliefs.

The board had considered a policy that would allow a student who objects to a topic such as evolution study another area while the class covers that topic.

However, the board noted that such an accommodation would conflict with the policy that requires the school to teach the state-mandated curriculum.

The school board chose to stick with the policy that allows a student to conscientiously object by submitting their objections to the teacher. But the student is still responsible for the answer that was taught in the classroom.

* Approved a pandemic flu plan as presented at the December board meeting.

* Agreed to allow Supt. Green to negotiate an agreement with Educational Services Co. to review the special education program for Greencastle schools.

The cost could be between $6,000-$9,000 depending upon the hours logged on the project. The results will be presented to the board.

* Learned the results of the corn boiler test at the high school that occurred in December have not yet been received, but preliminary indications were that the results were positive.

The Greencastle School Board regularly meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Miller Education Center, 522 Anderson St. The meetings are open to the public.

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