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The Shelby County Board of Education got its first look at the district's 2009-2010 MAP scores compared to the national averages at Thursday' board meeting.
The Measures of Academic Progress test is given three times – in the fall, winter and spring – to students in second through 10th grade, and next year the district will add 11th grade as well.
The information broke down district by grade, school and each grade within each school as compared to students at or above the 50th percentile. The information also can be taken down to individual students throughout the district.
As compared to the 2.3 million students nationally that take the MAP tests, Shelby County was above the 50th percentile at every school in the district outside The Education Center @ Cropper, which had only 25.4 percent at or above the 50th percentile.
“Most schools had a stable population for all three tests, but at Cropper the number of students changed enough to significantly skew the numbers, and that’s according to MAP not analysis by us,” said Kerry Fannin, assistant superintendent for student achievement.
Simpsonville Elementary had the highest number of students in the top range, with 66.2 percent, and East Middle was the only other school over 60 percent, with 60.3. The district’s overall average was 56.1.
Though the district was able to identify areas that were highly successful and areas of concern, the information will be more valuable as more data is collected each year.
“Explaining all these numbers [highs and lows] right now is very difficult,” Superintendent James Neihof said.
Now, Fannin said, the group will focus on using the data to help students.
“This is the first time we’ve had this information,” he said. “We are going to track the 10 percent of students in the most need at each school, and some will track even more students, to see what we can do to help them.
The board also heard a presentation from the Graduation Academic Honors Committee.
The committee put together a proposal for a new way to honor high-achieving students at graduation.
The new way would eliminate class ranks and valedictorian and salutatorian, and instead honor students based on KEES 4.0 grade-point scale with benchmarks for cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.
The idea is to eliminate students' concerns over class rank, and instead of creating competition against one another; they would compete against the standards set by classes before them.
Board member Sam Hinkle argued, with agreement from other board members, that the competition was a positive for students and that class rank was necessary.
Neihof proposed that the committee reconvene and discuss adding class ranking in another later proposal.
New elementaries school
The board approved, 4-1, beginning the process for a new elementary school on Discovery Boulevard, in front of Collins High School. Sam Hinkle was opposed, stating the difficult budget issues that the district is likely to face in 2011-12.
The board then tabled the vote on approving Sherman Carter Barnhart as the architect for the new school to further discuss bidding the project out.
Eddie Mathis voted against tabling the issue.
Shelby County High School freshman Shawn Allen gave a presentation during the meeting, describing his trip to the YMCA Conference on National Affairs program during the summer.
Allen, the first Shelby County student invited in the program's 45 years, also was one of only a few freshmen.
The conference, in North Carolina, gave the students the chance to speak on issues about which they have strong feelings.
Allen spoke on foreign trade.
"My issue proposed the end of foreign trade to any country that doesn't give its residents the same rights as the United States," he said. "And it turned out to be one of the most controversial topics of the conference. In fact, removing 'In God We Trust' was the only one that was more controversial."
Allen said the conference – and meeting other students – showed him how much he needs to prepare for his life and set goals. "It made me consider my career path," he said.
Allen listed several goals including graduating from the Air Force Academy, Yale Law School and becoming a Judge Advocate General officer.
"I guarantee in 25 years, he will have accomplished those goals," SCHS Principal Eddie Oakley said. "The district wants to talk about BIG goals, well Shawn is setting them, and I'm sure he will be successful."
Also at the meeting, the board approved:
• Granting a sanitary sewer easement to the City of Shelbyville for the Collins High School campus.
• A salary adjustment for an Occupational Therapist for special needs students. The move will save the district about $20,000 a year over contracting the position out which has been done in the past.
• The 2010-11 interagency agreement between the district and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
SCPS MAP scores
Percentage of students in top range
Simpsonville Elementary, 66.2
East Middle, 60.3
Clear Creek Elementary, 58.1
Heritage Elementary, 52.4
Painted Stone Elementary, 55.3
Simpsonville Elementary, 66.2
Southside Elementary, 52.8
Wright Elementary, 50.8
East Middle, 60.3
West Middle, 59.1
Shelby County High, 51.9