Fairbury School Board Discusses Student Assessments

FAIRBURY – The Fairbury School Board heard reports on some of the ways the district assesses student performance during its monthly meeting Monday night.

Reading coach Brenda Beacher spoke to the board about the DIBELS program, which is used to identify reading abilities of elementary students.

:28     “…monitor those students.”

Beacher says students are monitored at regular intervals, with those who score lower being checked on twice a month and those at the higher end once per quarter.

:11     “…in grade three.”

Beacher said the assessment gradually shifts focus from basic phonics for the youngest students to gradually increasing the focus on fluency and comprehension.

Meanwhile high school juniors are preparing to take the ACT exam. The Nebraska State Board of Education voted near the beginning of the school year to have all juniors take the college entrance exam in place of the standardized tests that were previously given.

High school principal Nick Kroon said all juniors at the high school have been preparing using the John Baylor test prep program.

Many in attendance expressed reservations about how well the test can measure what students have actually learned in class, including board member Jody Starr and superintendent Stephen Grizzle.

:21     “…No and yes.”

Grizzle said in the past about 40 percent of Fairbury juniors took the exam and he anticipates lower test scores with everyone taking it.

:23     “…as we can.”

The cost of the exam for each student is being covered by the state, while the school is paying the cost of the prep materials.

Also during the meeting the board officially set May 19 as the final day of the school year for students and May 23 as the final day for staff. They also accepted the resignations of high school music teacher Trevor Kern and fifth grade teacher Mary Jantz while approving the hiring of Jill Timmons as a school psychologist and behavior specialist.

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