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School Board Discusses STAAR Testing, ESL Students

Kelly Moore
Kelly Moore

With summer in full swing the Van Alstyne ISD Board of Trustees met to look at the year past and plot a course for the year ahead.

VAISD Superintendent Dr. John Spies presented his monthly report to the board, discussing, among other things, enrollment, local accountability ratings and STAAR testing results. Spies reported that the district lost 10-12 kids during the last month of school but that overall attendance rose a half-percent compared to recent years.

Spies also discussed local accountability ratings. The ratings are a locally-created index required from the state to determine various programs’ effectiveness. The scale created was a 5-point scale with 4.5 or higher in each domain and for a total being exemplary. All three district campuses were rated exemplary with an average overall rating of 4.6.

“I think our scores are a good reflection,” said Spies, who added that parent survey responses also factored in to the ratings.

STAAR testing results were presented to the board. Spies presented the district results with the state averages as he told the board and those present at the meeting that since the state frequently changes criteria this was a good way to gauge where the district sits. Interestingly, the district’s science scores were off the chart; 61 percent of eighth graders received commended scores, three times the number for students across the state.

In just about every standard comparison the district ranked above the state average. Spies also presented the chart ranking hispanic and economically disadvantaged students. An interesting note: Spies said the economically disadvantaged population is growing as it was up five percent at the elementary level.

Overall, the district ranked approximately where it did last year; in 2013, VAISD was on average 12.32 points above the state average and for 2014 it was 12.27 points above the state average. Advanced student testing scores, however, were not as high as Spies had hoped.

“It is my belief we are going a very good job at core instruction,” said Spies. “We need to do a better job with our advanced kids. I’m happy overall with the results. The thing I lose sleep over is that we aren’t advancing our advanced kids more above the norm.”

Curriculum Director Wendi Russell made a short presentation to the board regarding the ESL (English as Second Language) yearly report. There are 39 ESL students total in the district and they are tested three times throughout the school year. There were no ESL students involved in STAAR testing at the high school level but there were 15 at the elementary level and seven at the middle school level. At the elementary level there was 67 percent passing reading and 80 percent passing math, while at the middle school level there was 75 percent passing reading and 75 percent passing math.

Technology purchases were also discussed. The district plans to reduce the number of serves and replace them with more “robust servers,” according to Spies. The district plans to purchase three expandable servers with one serving as a backup to the other two. GCEC has offered to host the third server at its Sherman location in case of an incident on site with the first two servers. The money for this purchase is in this year’s budget and the board voted 5-0 to approve the $35,180 purchase.

In an executive session meeting the Board approved the hiring of Kelly Moore as Van Alstyne Middle School assistant principal, replacing Elizabeth Smith who left to take over as the elementary school principal. Moore has taught for eight years and spent the past year teaching fifth grade science at VAMS. She has her bachelors from Texas Tech, masters from A&M Commerce and is currently pursuing her

doctorate.

Meeting Notes:

Convocation is set for Aug. 18…The district will be replacing the gym lights in the middle school gym with new LED lights which are about a quarter as expensive to operate and shine twice as bright…The July board meeting has been cancelled and the August meeting moved up a week to Aug. 11…Board members Dennis Smith and Randall Morgan were not in attendance at Monday night’s meeting.