The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 10, 2012

School superintendent: Measuring student achievement key focus

By Kelsey Ryan

JOPLIN, Mo. — Measuring student achievement apparently will be a focus of the Joplin Board of Education as it works on approaching its goals.

The goals also include community relations, finance, human relations and buildings.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time on the student achievement part,” Superintendent C.J. Huff said in an interview in connection with a special board meeting Thursday afternoon. “We’ve got to determine from a measurement standpoint how we are going to measure gains that are important in communication arts and math performance, and what data we’re going to use to track that.”

The district plans to measure student achievement in four areas: attendance, behavior, dropouts and achievement. Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer spoke with the board about one current method of measuring achievement, which includes Missouri Assessment Program testing.

“We don’t feel like MAP is a fair way to judge this because it’s a one-time shot, and it’s not something that we can watch over the years with consistency,” Besendorfer said. “The Common Core assessments will be very different, and we don’t know exactly what that will be like.”

In the next two years, all of the school districts in Missouri will transition from MAP testing to Common Core State Standards in English and math that are consistent with other states.

In the area of community relations, the board discussed having the administration create a public relations plan that will be presented to the board in August. The plan will include formalizing a district PTA and creating an official alumni association. Other goals include website development, having more Joplin Eagles stickers on display at businesses around town and quotas for media coverage.

Several board members discussed how they might effectively survey “internal” and “external” district patrons as part of the community relations and human relations goals.

Board member Phil Willcoxon suggested hiring a survey firm, and board vice president Jeff Flowers suggested giving parents cards at parent-teacher conferences.

The board also discussed financial goals, one of which would be a fund balance of equal to three months worth of operating expenses.

Concerning buildings, the members said they will continue to analyze the cleanliness and maintenance standards across the district, and keep the district focused on completing new construction on time and on budget.

Next meeting

THE JOPLIN SCHOOL BOARD will meet next on Tuesday, May 29, with a work session at 5:30 p.m. and the regular meeting at 7 p.m. at the administration building, 3901 E. 32nd St.