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Springville students’ declining ELA scores come under scrutiny

SPRINGVILLE — Springville-Griffith Institute students in grades nine – 12 improved in several subject areas for the Regents and advanced placement exams, although they fell short in one area.

S-GI Board of Education members received the news during their regular meeting on Oct. 9.

High School Principal Vince Vanderlip called many of the scores “encouraging,” but added that one, English language arts, remains an anomaly. While 93 percent of students tested in ELA during the 2010-11 school year achieved a passing score, 83 percent achieved a passing mark, this year.

Board Member Janine Caimano said, about the recent dip, “I’m sorry, but that’s horrible. Just horrible.”

Vanderlip said that the district has never before posted ELA marks in grades nine – 12 below 90 percent and added that this decrease could be due to students’ not reading and writing on a constant basis.

“Or it could have just been a bad day [to test],” Vanderlip said, adding later, “We didn’t see this coming.”

Superintendent Paul Connelly said he believed that students are not doing enough writing. “It’s all very alarming,” Connelly said, about the dip in ELA scores. “We need to get back to some of the basics.”

On the flip side, ninth – 12th grade students improved in other areas, specifically algebra and trigonometry, where students improved from 84 percent passing in 2010-11 to 97 percent in 2011-12. In all areas of math, students scored above the 65 percent mark and passed with high marks in earth science and social studies.

For AP students, improvements were made in calculus, science and world history.

One area for Springville’s AP students that remains a challenge is U.S. history, where 53 percent reached the passing mark. But Vanderlip called that particular class is hard and “extremely challenging.”

The board received word that students in third – eighth grades also improved in overall scoring, but still need work in ELA.

In some ELA areas, students fell below the 65 percent passing mark, according to information provided by the district. Third and fifth graders are falling below the passing mark.

Sixth graders showed improvement in ELA, performing 15 percent higher in 2011-12 than they did in 2010-11. Seventh and eighth graders failed to reach the passing mark, but some improvement was made from the year before.

In math, students in grades three – eight did not achieve a passing score higher than 56 percent, but scores are improving, according to information provided.

In other news:
– The board approved the placement of several students into the district’s special education program.

– Leaves of absence for Kristie Ziegler, a school social worker, and Rebekah Brzozowski, an elementary teacher, were approved.

– Mike Vogel and Val Adams Brown were approved to receive additional pay ($32.00 per hour for 6 1/2 hours each) for participation in a French teacher interview committee that took place on July 24. Vogel is a Spanish teacher and Adam Brown is a French teacher in the district.

– The board approved Julie Goodrich, Kimberly Groff and Stephen Malone as student teachers.

– Colleen Mahoney's hours were increased from three to 3 1/2 hours per day. Clerk/typist Deborah Simmons was transfered to the athletic department.

– The board approved several fundraising activities throughout the district for the school year.

– The board approved the disposal and donation of middle school textbooks to St. Aloysius Regional School.

– Marianna Krolikowski and Katherine Flint were approved to receive extra pay for participating in a social studies teacher interview committee on Aug. 9. They each received $32 per hour for seven hours each.

– Custodian John Gill resigned, effective Sept. 18.

– Paula Baker was appointed as a substitute teacher aide, Johna Swank as a permanent cleaner, Tina Mary was approved as substitute cleaner, monitor and teacher aide; PeggySue Piatek was approved as a substitute monitor and teacher aide; Brenda Ditchey was approved as a substitute teacher aide and monitor; Pam Zabawa was approved as a substitute teacher aide and monitor; Janice Zittel was approved as a substitute clerk typist; Nancy Dash was approved as a substitute teacher aide and monitor; Wendy Glass was approved as a substitute teacher aide and monitor and Tina Starks was approved as a substitute teacher aide and monitor.

– Elizabeth Rice was approved to perform the stipended activity of instructional leader in the subject area of social studies at Colden Elementary School. Rice has been employed as an elementary teacher at the Colden Elementary School for a number of years.

The next regular S-GI Board meeting will be held at the high school library/media center, on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.

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