The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

August 22, 2013

Schools’ grades drop

Board making changes to improve scores

By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer

BROOKFIELD — Brookfield Local School District scored lower on the state’s report card system than expected. So before fall classes even start, officials are taking steps to kickstart student learning in the coming year.

Superintendent Tim Saxton told school directors Wednesday that he received an advance copy of the district’s performance score card. The district met only 17 of 24 performance indicators, he said. Official results will be released on the Ohio Department of Education’s website at 11 a.m. today.

Most notably, Saxton said, there seems to be problem with third- and fourth-grade math. The district’s financial issues forced it to work with one fewer teacher in those grades last year, he said, and while officials expected the scores to drop, they went lower than they anticipated.

He also said he’d like to note that students who missed reaching a proficient mark on the state tests – a 75 percent – missed by a very marginal amount. “In some cases it was by two-tenths of a percent. It was close, really close, but it affected us,” he said.

Another factor, he said, is the inclusion of the scores of special education students who take the tests, but only one time. It’s common practice, he said, throughout the state of Ohio, to accept “one and done.” Brookfield, he said, is working with special needs students to get them as proficient as possible, and he would like to see those efforts reflected, too.

“We’ve seen a steady rise in these scores in the last few years, but we suffered a setback this year. To that end, now that we have the financial situation sort of in hand, our focus this year will be on academic success.

“Not that we weren’t always working toward that, but we’re going to put a bigger emphasis on it,” he said.

He and his administrative team met with a consulting group from Mahoning County who offered to come in, at no cost, and do a needs assessment.

“We’ve also adjusted the schedule a bit, added a middle school teacher and we’ll be continually looking at how to improve,” he said.

Additionally, traditional “study halls” involving an aide or a monitor, will be renamed “intervention periods” and will have a teacher available for tutoring.

Director Tim Filipovich suggested putting together a district math team and also looking at the teaching methods of the sixth-grade teachers, whose students received higher scores in math.

Classes start Tuesday. The high school office is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays for students to pick up schedules. An elementary school open house is set for 6 to 8 tonight.

Bus routes are being finalized, Saxton said, and parents who haven’t already spoken to someone about pickup and dropoff times will be contacted by phone or postcard this weekend.