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Curriculum committee meets Harry S Truman Elementary School students

School board members had the opportunity to meet students at the Feb. 1 curriculum and technology committee meeting held at Harry S Truman Elementary School.

Students gave school board members and administrators a glimpse into their mode of learning by demonstrating programs on both the iPad and school-provided laptops. One such demonstration on an iPad showed a program used for students to go on a walk around the school looking for nouns.

Board members were thanked for their service with two videos.

One video was made by kindergarten students stating their favorite things about school which included, eating in the cafeteria, learning math, the library, iPads, gym, math, teachers, technology and the seven habits. The other video is spotlighted in the article in this issue of The Press titled, “Kindergarten students answer questions about school board members.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss thanked the board members for their work.

“The amount of time you volunteer is very much appreciated. It does make a difference,” Ziegenfuss said.

All four principals gave assessment updates/district testing summaries. Specific results can be found by visiting www.paschoolperformance.org.

Salisbury High School Principal Heather Morningstar reported statistics on students evaluated via the Keystones, Study Island and the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System.

Although Morningstar is pleased with an overall assessment of 78.7 percent making the school the fourth in the valley, she continues to be concerned about the statistics on the special education and English Language Learners which she said is typical across the valley.

Morningstar said she will continue to work with department chairs and continue the collaborative effort with the assistant superintendent to implement project-based assessments for students who do not achieve proficiency. She also said the departments will continue to use benchmark and Keystone results to target instruction to students who have demonstrated needs.

Salisbury Middle School Principal Ken Parliman said assessments are based on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment testing, Study Island, Keystone exams, bi-weekly math probes, ongoing writing prompts and team meeting conversations.

Parliman said challenges include the math proficiency percent declined and seventh grade students tested below state average. In reading, the sixth grade proficient group did not demonstrate adequate growth. He said SMS is redesigning the math intervention for ninth period. They will analyze the data sources and develop short-term objectives and establish small group intervention. Weekly team discussions will continue to analyze the most recent data and an after- school program will be focused on math and nonfiction reading. Because students in advanced classes are not tested on what they learned that year, math teachers will creatively embed regular content into the advanced classes.

At HST, Principal Zachary Brem said the data sources to evaluate students includes PSSA scores, PVAAS, STAR benchmark and progress monitoring data, curriculum based assessments used in math and English Language Arts and Literacy, informal reading inventory benchmarks, behavioral support and demographics.

Brem said fourth grade met the standard for academic growth in math and ELA. The three-year average of grade four science exceeded the standard for Pennsylvania academic growth. Brem provided statistics on other grades, some of which did not meet standards for academic growth. Brem said ELL students and transiency percentages are higher at HST. Brem said there are also significant behavior issues on the transient students at HST.

Next steps at HST include an after school tutoring program provided with federal grant money, professional development on positive behavior training, reflective practice to have both elementary schools collaborate to discover gaps in the system and align to CommonCore math and increase community engagement.

At Western Salisbury Elementary School, many of the same issues as noted at HST apply such as behavioral, medical, social and emotional issues. The school uses a progress monitoring team which meets monthly and a three tiered PSSA review process. Principal Grace Hartman said many of the grades tested above state average. Challenges include the elimination of a modified PSSA test and the smaller sizes of classes skews standardized data.

Hartman also said, the ELL students coming into the district now either have no English skills or very little skill, which is different than in years past. This also affects testing. She also mentioned objective standardized measures are needed for tracking student behavior, parents need to be educated and have access to community resources and the school needs to help students manage their behavior and learning. Hartman listed next steps which included project-based learning, increased time for intervention and enrichment, early intervention information given to parents at kindergarten registration and student leadership opportunities.

In other businesses, the high school presented changes to the program of studies which primarily include the rolling program of studies. An online government course is proposed based on student interest.

Visioning sessions are scheduled 6 p.m. March 3, 3:30 p.m. March 16 and 5:30 p.m. April 4 at the administration building. The public is asked to attend.

Editor’s Note; Ben Baca, a student at Southern Lehigh High School, assisted with this meeting story as part of his job-shadowing project.

PRESS PHOTOS BY DEBBIE GALBRAITHMadison Peifer demonstrates the program “Seesaw” on an iPad at the Salisbury Township School District curriculum meeting Feb. 1. Peifer demonstrates for school board members and administrators how the program was used recently to find nouns around the school.