Trigg appointed to school board, placement scores show Nome kids are struggling, District audit reveals one error
On Tuesday, November 20 the Nome Public Schools Board of Education met for a regular meeting in the Nome Elementary School Library. The meeting was originally scheduled for Tuesday, November 13.
A special meeting was held on Wednesday, October 24, when board members interviewed finalists for the open board seat. Finalists were Talyn Green and Darlene Trigg. After a series of candidate interview questions, board member Barb Amarok motioned to appoint Darlene Trigg to the NPS school board. Member Nancy Mendenhall seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. Trigg was sworn in immediately that evening.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, the board held its first regular meeting with new board member Trigg as well as its first meeting as a reorganized board. Member Brandy Arrington opened the meeting as the new board president, Dr. Barb Amarok took the role of vice president/clerk and Sandy Martinson began as treasurer.
During the directors reports, Jamie Burgess, Director of Federal Programs & Instruction, presented the board with results from the 2018 Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP, placement test scores.
“Again, we’re seeing that our kids are experiencing some challenges and struggles in the elementary grades, and then when we get up here [to the junior high and high school levels] things are getting done,” said Burgess to the board, explaining a series of bar graphs showing comparisons of test scores over the past three years.
Overall for 2018 MAP scores, in the Language —or writing comprehension— section, students in grades 2-6 showed the least amount of growth, with 40 percent or less of students meeting or exceeding previous test scores. In Math, students in the fourth grade struggled the most, with less than 20 percent of kids meeting their targets. In Reading, grades 4-5 had the most challenges.
As Burgess pointed out, students seem to catch up with their scores later in the system, specifically after seventh grade when a “road to intervention” or RTI plan is normally put in place for kids who are falling behind. While high teacher turnover or lack of staffing at lower grade levels could be some of the reasons kids are falling behind, there are other factors that come into play, such as multiple testing.
“We have to take our spring results with a little grain of salt, because we do get some test fatigue,” said Burgess. “Kids in the spring: the English learners have been through Access testing, then we’ve administered the state test, then we’ve administered the MAP test.”
No matter the reasons, the data shows that NPS students need a little extra attention in the lower grade levels. Placement test scores can help teachers identify students that need special help, and overall class scores can help districts find new approaches to curriculum or identify areas where teachers need more training.
Also on the agenda last Tuesday, the district heard a presentation of the fiscal year 2018 audit. One error was identified in the district’s financial statement: $661,000 in capital assets was double recorded – both by the school district and by the City of Nome. A corrected action plan was made to address the rare error and the dual recording of assets should not reoccur in the future. There were no other findings in the audit. The FY18 audit was approved.
During his report, Superintendent Bill Schildbach presented the board with an action place for the Nome CRESEL Grant. CRESEL stands for Culturally Responsive Embedded Social Emotional Learning, and according to Superintendent Schildbach, “the plan aligns with the Equity Framework and Strategic Plan in addressing community and family involvement along with developing and maintaining a positive climate for staff and students.”
The board agreed with Schildbach on the overall objectives of the action plan, but several board members took issue with the wording of plan goals, specifically goal #2 which in draft form states, “Engage families and community to encourage a sense of ownership and responsibility to heal a history of resentment and fear and develop a strength-based climate in the Nome schools.”
Dr. Barb Amarok addressed the historical references stated in the goal, “I agree with Goal 2 that families and our community should feel a sense of ownership, however there are very historical reasons why that is not such a common feeling in our community,” said Dr. Amarok. “Goal 2 mentions a ‘history of resentment and fear,’ and actually the history we have with schooling Alaska Natives is a history of intentional assimilation with resentment and fear being the result. I think that when our school represents the cultures of our community more thoroughly, we will heal.”
New board member Darlene Trigg agreed with Dr. Amarok on the wording of goal 2, as well as specific tasks contained within the various goals. Board members agreed to address the CRESEL Action Plan in the upcoming work session.
In other news, Dr. Jackie Hrabok-Leppäjärvi presented to the board on her Summer 2018 Ecology Explorer course. During the summer program ten students, mainly from the Migrant Education program, explored various scientific processes including ornithology, fish biology and ecology, fishing, aquatic entomology, fish anatomy and physiology, marine mammals, chemistry of vegetative tanning, reindeer husbandry, meat science, GPS and applied arts. The students participated in mainly outdoor field trips and activities, such as birding, fishing, salmon and walrus dissection, and even made their own beef jerky. The course offered two UAF credits to students who attended all course sessions. The Ecology Explorer program plans to be offered again next summer, with talks of even expanding the course into a semester-long class in the future.
Students of the month for October 2018 were recognized: Keri-Ann Russell at Nome-Beltz Junior High, Michael Tocktoo at Nome-Beltz Senior High and Gabriella Brown at Anvil City Science Academy. Teacher of the Month was recognized as Karen Mehl of Nome Elementary School, and Support Staff of the Month was awarded to Kathryn Osborn.
The board will reconvene for a work session on Tuesday, November 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Nome Elementary School library. The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, December 11 at 5:30 p.m.