In a sparsely attended forum, Fieldcrest Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kari Rockwell gave a presentation on the school's state of affairs and addressed many questions.
Dr. Rockwell started her presentation showing the current enrollment in the various schools: Primary - 224, Intermediate - 193, Middle - 227, High School - 336 for a total of 980.
Dr. Rockwell said the school is addressing the issue of bullying. She said there are two links at the bottom left of the school's website for reporting of bullying and mental health issues. She said they can be submitted anonymously and the administration will investigate all of these reported concerns.
Then Dr. Rockwell gave some dismaying figures regarding school test scores. The test scores for the PARC Illinois Assessment of Readiness for grades 3 - 8 showed only 19% met or exceeded in English Language Arts and just 16% in Math. For Grade 11 SAT scores, 31% met or exceeded in English Languages Art and 42% in Math. For grades 5 - 8 and High School biology the score was 42% for the Illinois Assessment for Readiness.
Some members of the audience questioned why the school has low test scores. Dr. Rockwell mentioned that chronic absenteeism is a problem that needs to be addressed and the school will be focusing on addressing the absenteeism issue and also work toward improving the Math scores. However, she said it will be impossible to go from 14% to 60% overnight and that it will take time to improve the scores. She said the school's teachers are dedicated to working on that improvement.
A question from the audience asked if there was any pattern of absenteeism based on community or grade levels to which Dr. Rockwell replied that absenteeism is across the board and is not limited to a particular area or group.
A question from the audience asked if there is a correlation between the poverty level of the school district and absenteeism to which Dr. Rockwell replied that there is a correlation between poverty and absenteeism and not just for Fieldcrest but for all areas with a high level of poverty.
Some audience members stated that test scores do not necessarily predict failure since they do not take in a student's involvement in extra curricular activities or community involvement to which Dr. Rockwell agreed. She said community involvement is an important trait to have when predicting a student's future success.
Another question from the audience asked if Fieldcrest compared its test scores to other similar sized school districts to see if there are significant differences. Dr. Rockwell said they have not compared scores to other schools but felt that most rural schools with a higher level of poverty have lower test scores than richer metropolitan schools.
In other news, Dr. Rockwell said the church annex building is scheduled to be razed next month and the Life Safety Study is completed for the Middle School and the High School. She said 26 students, both juniors and seniors, are enrolled in the Bloomington Area Career Center Opportunities where students can receive training in various trades such as barbering, welding, cosmetology, construction trades, etc.
Dr. Rockwell gave a brief review of the news at the various schools in the district. The Intermediate school in Toluca had a student attendance percentage of 95.6%.
The Middle School in Wenona has a game room called the Castle where students support kids in making good academics and good behavior choices. There also is an Unknighted Room to support support students and families in need in the community. There also is an introduction of mediation strategies to reduce stress.
The high school has the following Illinois State Scholars: Angelique Amaral, Zada Baker, Hannah Baker, Andrew Gochanour and Ryan Gochanour.
Dr. Rockwell said the school will have a new website that will be rolled out on December 15th and that the board is considering conducting a survey of graduates and community members in the coming months.
Some of the questions submitted online were:
- Can a No Parking section be located near the main door to the high school?
- Can breakfast times be increased?
- How does the school combat vaping and illegal drug use? Dr. Rockwell said teachers and staff inform students of the dangers of drugs.
- Can supervision of students be added to the high school before shuttle buses pick up each morning?
An audience member asked if the school informs students that they should limit their use of social media and use of cell phones and try to be more interactive in person? Dr. Rockwell agreed that the excessive use of electronic devices is a problem and should be addressed. She said currently there is no policy restricting cell phones in the school other than they can't use them while in class.
Dr. Rockwell acknowledged there was an incident in the school last week when a vague threat was issued on social media and law enforcement was called in to monitor the threat. The threat could not be traced and was probably issued from a fake name.
An audience member asked if board members will agree to make their phone numbers available since most numbers are no longer available in telephone books. Dr. Rockwell said the school policy is not to give out phone numbers for board members but correspondence can be given to the school's secretary, Sherry Tjaden, who would then contact the board member.
Brandi Kline Hofmann:
I'd like to know what we can do as parents to help with comprehension? Since most of the assignments are on the computer, how can parents offer assistance when we rarely know the assignments until they get a grade?
Have the chromebooks become a hindrance rather than a helper? Is there any data showing a correlation between working assignments on computers and increased grades?
I'm sure it wasn't attended well because the School Board has a history of listening to the people's concerns, then going and doing what ever they want anyways. This area is no more poverty stricken than it was 20 years ago, what is the true cause of these horrid test scores?
Dr. Rockwell did a great presentation and understands today's issues very well. We have great teachers who put in so much extra time and want to help their students, whether academically or emotionally. It will take some time, but I believe we can get there. And yes, this area is definitely more poverty stricken than it was 20 years ago. Kids are having to deal with issues today that they didn't have to deal with 20 years ago. Ask any of the teachers who see what these kids are going through. A teacher was there last night and was tearing up speaking about her 1st graders and what so many of them have to deal with at home that definitely effects their school attendance and grades.
I don't understand how there are only 3 questions on a math assignment.....miss one and you have failed.
Penny Land I think a common misunderstanding among students is that, while a 2 out of 3 is 67%, it does not necessarily mean that the assignment is failed. If the assignment is worth only 3 points, then missing one still scores as achieving 2 points, which is added to total points earned when grading at the end of the semester. Also, teachers may assign more point values to each problem and students can receive partial credit for work. I suggest talking with the appropriate teacher, rather than directing it to the school board.
Garret Piasse my comment was not about the board but rather in reference to the math scores being low.
Penny Land The data is from standardized tests which are scored differently than math homework in class, so missing 1 of 3 parts is not as detrimental to the total score of the SAT math portion.