Elementary Test Scores Reveal Mixed Results
Principals from Hudson and Clark presented annual progress reports at Monday's Board of Education meeting for the Webster Groves School District.
The Webster Groves School District heard reports from Hudson and Clark elementary schools, as well as an update from the Coordinated Safety, Health and Wellness program at its meeting Monday at Hudson Elementary.
Presentations by Clark Principal Bill Schiller and Hudson Principal Lisa Hilpert highlighted the schools academic success with regards to the Missouri Assessment Program (M.A.P.) test scores. Hudson saw an increase in students scoring proficient and above in the areas of math, communication arts and science.
Clark's scores were less consistent. Students across the board struggled with Communication Arts in grade 4, which Schiller called "a historical pattern with the school."
"We've seen a drop in comm arts for fourth graders every year," Schiller said. "We've been exploring the causes of that, but it seems to be a constant."
Students receiving free or reduced lunches (FRL) scored the worst in M.A.P. tests in both schools, along with African-American students. FRL students struggled in every category at all grade levels at both Clark and Hudson, scoring highest in Communication Arts (57.1 percent testing proficient and above in grade 5) at Clark.
Husdon FRL students fared worse, testing at 42.3 percent proficient and above for all grades in communication arts.
Both schools recognized the achievement gap as a major concern for future success.
"I believe we can reach 100 percent proficiency for all students," Schiller said. "I know people laugh about that, but it is possible."
Hilpert was less concerned. The principal stressed that M.A.P. scores were only as important as the students they produce.
"We never teach anything just because it is on the M.A.P.," Hilpert said. "We want the students to understand the meaning, to know how to approach a problem, rather than just spit out an answer mechanically."
In other school board news, Gale Hennessey, director of student services for the district, presented the annual report on the coordinated safety, health and wellness program. The presentation is the summary of work by six subcommittees for the district: UNITE, Wellness Oversight, School Health Advisory Council, Nutrition/Food Service, PE/Health and School Counselling and guidance committees.
Hennessey summarized efforts at all levels of the district to educate students on health and lifestyle choices. Obesity, alcohol use, drug abuse, tobacco and cyber-bullying were all confirmed by Hennessey as areas of focus over the next year.
The annual report details several efforts by the subcommittees to boost student health. Nutrition and Food Services committee members concluded that lunch periods could be kept to 20 minutes for students, and that recess should take place before, not after, the allotted lunch time.
Webster Groves High School is addressing concerns about drug and alcohol use among its students through the committees. The high school is exploring random drug testing for all athletes, band members and other school-sanctioned activities.
Linda Neumann, Hixson Elementary school nurse for 22 years, addressed board concerns about drugs and alcohol.
"Compared to our total population, we don't have a major drug and alcohol problem," Neumann said. "But it's there; it's always been there."
Neumann said that marijuana and alcohol have been the two most commonly abused substances throughout the district, and that the district must have a "proactive" approach to the issue.
"Our conselors have done a great job lately of empowering the students to come to us when they have issues," Neumann said.
The Board also held an open "new member forum" for anyone that filed for Board of Education positions in the upcoming April Election.
The forum was designed as a method of orientation for all prospective members about the duties and challenges of the Board of Education.
Board members Amy O'Brien and Emerson Smith are both filing for re-election. Board member Janet Hamill has already announced that she does not plan to run again. Smith and O'Brien will be running against Amy Clendennen of the finance advisory committee and David Addison, former Clark PTO President. All four will be running for three available seats on the board in April.