Silver Creek board discusses growth scores

SILVER CREEK – The new state assessments have left many confused. At the Silver Creek Board of Education meeting held recently, Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich showed the board a video to simplify the new process.

The video “Growth Scores Explained” is available for viewing at www.engageny.org by clicking the video library link. It explained the growth rates calculate progress from the previous year to the current year, compare students with similar scores and characteristics, like wealth or learning disability and create a student growth percentile. The average of all the SGP’s in a teacher’s class are used to find a teacher’s mean growth percentile.

Ljiljanich said the video leads one to believe all teachers can be compared based on the growth scores. He said this is a misconception because pre-k through second grade and ninth through 12th grade do not have assessments.

He said each district created its own student learning objectives for these teachers without assessments and therefore they cannot be compared across the board.

Board member Matt Bogosian asked if Ljiljanich anticipates the state creating an assessment at every level in the future. Ljiljanich said “No.”

Board President Martha Howard asked how Silver Creek’s teacher assessments were.

Ljiljanich said because the district set an aggressive goal and students did not do as well as last year, the numbers did not look good, but the district is going to submit material changes to its APPR plan for this year.

Director of Pupil Personnel Services Lynne Gowan said the state’s approach of measuring students with similar characteristics is on the right path, but increased standards have widened the gap for students with disabilities.

Gowan gave a presentation on special education in the district.

She explained the number of students utilizing services has stayed roughly the same with 131 last year and 134 this year. However, she pointed out some students were declassified in the high school and the district gained new students needing services in the elementary school.

She explained the different kinds of assistance the district provides students and the breakdown of how many students utilize each level of service. She also gave the board a breakdown of how special education students scored on state tests from 2011-12. She said the state has changed regulations so now all students are required to take five regents exams, achieve proficiency on state assessments and has eliminated the IEP diploma.

“We have made progress, but the state raised the bar,” she said.

She said the district’s intervention plan includes improving basic general education and the effectiveness of AIS services, developing more accurate predictors of difficulty, increasing the use of data to plan instruction and evaluate effectiveness, implementing the response to intervention program and concentrating the greatest efforts at the early levels.

The board also approved a cross contract with Erie 1 BOCES for eDoctrina software, which it was explained helps teachers with lesson plans, principals with assessment creation and the ability to collect data based on the assessments.

Ljiljanich said the state is requiring the purchase of Data Dashboard software which will share a district’s data with the public. He said the state has agreed to pay for the software for the first two years. He also explained that this software serves a different purpose than eDoctrina, but he expects in the future the programs will evolve to fit districts’ needs.

The board will meet again on Sept. 25.

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