Chesterton Tribune

Duneland Schools to regroup after disappointing ISTEP scores

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An overall decline in the Duneland Schools’ ISTEP-plus results for this year has school officials deliberating approaches for improvements at each individual building in the school corporation.

Monte Moffett, assistant superintendent for Duneland Schools, spoke to the school board on Tuesday about the lackluster 2012 results failing to match the results of last year, when the district improved in 15 out of the 16 tested grades/subjects.

“We’re not satisfied with the scores. Our schools generally improved in every area but (in 2012) we were only up in eight of the 16 areas. We’re not making any excuses,” Moffett said.

He went on to say it could be “a bunch of little things” that dragged the scores down.

Figures from the Indiana Department of Education released in early July said for all grades combined, Duneland had 83 percent of students pass English, 85.3 percent pass math, and 77 percent passing both. Duneland’s percentage for passing both ranked sixth out of seven school corporations in the county.

In Duneland, elementary grades tended to show higher marks in English/Language Arts while Intermediate and Middle School students performed better in Math.

Scoring higher were Discovery Charter School in Porter, with 96 percent of its students passing the Math portion and 93.5 percent passing the English portion, and St. Patrick Catholic School which reported the best results in Duneland with 98 percent passing Math, 98 percent passing English and 96 percent passing both.

Moffett said the performances have been discussed with principals and teachers of each school in the district. He said there will be three teacher days designated to look over test data and configure individual strategies will be implemented based on the needs of those classrooms.

“Each building can come up with a plan on what they need to improve on. I think that’s the best way to approach it,” he said.

Moffett said a move at his discretion may have been partly to blame. With Indiana and 45 other states moving to the PARCC national testing after 2014 (the state will cease the ISTEP that year and will replace it with PARCC), Moffett said Duneland has started to shift to the national Common Core standards with less emphasis on teaching the standards advocated by the state.

“It probably cost us a little this year,” Moffett said. “I heard from principals and teachers that this really was a change for our kids.”

Common Core has some similarities to state standards but uses a more hands-on-approach with technology being a key component.

“We look to do a better job of laying the state standards next to the Common Core standards and make sure we are hitting both,” said Moffett.

Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer said loss of classroom aides due to funding cuts probably played a role in nudging the scores downward. He also said new students coming into Duneland this past year have been taught different standards and just needed more time to adjust.

Some positive statistics were voiced by the board. Board member Ralph Ayres said most of the scores were above the state’s averages and he expects the scores to receive a boost in the next three years when those who went through full-day kindergarten begin testing.

Moffett added that scores were generally up for students in the special needs category.

“We just didn’t improve and that’s not what we are used to seeing. If that is our expectation, that’s good. But there are a lot of really neat things. We had one outstanding student get a perfect score. Those things are in there,” said Moffett.

New CMS Assistant Principal

Early in the meeting, the board approved a two-year contract for Mike Oakley to fill the role of assistant principal at Chesterton Middle School. Oakley is not a stranger to Duneland as he has been one of the social studies teachers at CHS for eight years.

Oakley, a graduate of Indiana University Northwest, will replace resigning CMS assistant principal Tony Bartolomeo who has taken an athletic director’s job at Lake Central High School.

That makes two new administrators at CMS this year. Last month, the board named Mike Megyesi as the school’s new principal.

Other appointments

The board also greeted many new hires on Monday.

Christine Roberts will be a math teacher at CHS. A University of Southern Indiana graduate, she taught one year in Peru, Ind.

Megan Irwin, a native of Newburgh, Ind. and Ball State grad, will teach third grade at Yost Elementary.

Jason Gast will be a new art teacher at CMS. He is a Valparaiso native and previously taught 11 years in the Griffith School System.

CHS alums Katie Cahillane and Jacob Havner are returning to the school district to teach. The school hired Cahillane to teach social studies at CMS and Havner to teach third grade at Brummitt Elementary. Both are graduates of Purdue University.

Bryan Nallenweg will be teaching Social Studies at CHS.

The school made the following appointments for aide positions: Karen Donley, Brooke Hogan and Sharon Haussman, at Bailly Elementary; Kelly Fields, at Yost Elementary; Chris Nixon and Elisa Boscaccy, at Liberty Elementary; and Dan Barkas, at CMS. Long Term Substitutes hired are Krista Biggs for Liberty Elementary and Brandi Nay for Yost Elementary. Sara Binder and Kimberly Tumbas are two aides to help with Duneland School’s High Ability program.

Moffett also announced the resignations of CHS math teacher Sue Lipinski, CHS science teacher Carrie Edlen, aides Lindsey Darnell, Elizabeth Kadish and Tammy McEuen.

Baer said the school is deep in the hiring process for a new support services director after Mark McKibben retired from the job this summer.

INDOT responds

Baer informed the board the Indiana Department of Transportation replied to the inquiry he sent last month regarding safety for buses near the entrance of Porter Regional Hospital. INDOT said a traffic light will be in place when the hospital opens later this month and the agency will be “watching very closely” for traffic issues.

On another note, Baer mentioned the Porter County Commissioners have not responded to a similar concern for the intersection of CR 700N and Meridian Rd. Board member Ronald Stone expressed displeasure saying there are “too many” accidents at that intersection.

Lastly, Baer reminded the public the first day of classes for students is Wednesday, Aug. 22, and asked the community be considerate of students while driving.




Posted 8/14/2012