Friday, Nov. 02, 2012
Ray-Pec gears up for common core state standards
DESE serious about raising test scores
By Ellen Parson
“Most states can predict the number of prison beds they are going to need by their third grade reading scores.”
Kevin Daniel, assistant superintendent, academic services, used this powerful statement to kick off his presentation to school board members on Common Core State Standards at the Oct. 25 meeting for the Raymore-Peculiar School District.
In order to fulfill Ray-Pec’s mission of preparing each student for a successful and meaningful life, Daniel emphasized to the board the importance of preparing for CCSS sooner rather than later. Based on data from the Program for International Student Assessment, a system of international assessments that focuses on 15-year-olds’ capabilities in reading, mathematics, and science literacy, the United States falls significantly behind other industrialized countries in academic achievement — ranking 17 out of 77 in overall reading, 31 in math, and 23 in science. Shanghai-China ranked first in all three of these categories, while Finland, Korea, Hong-Kong China, Singapore, and Japan consistently rounded out the top 5.
In an effort to improve test scores, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was one of the first states to adopt the Common Core State Curriculum in June of 2010. CCSS was developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce. CCSS assessments will be operational across Consortium states starting with the 2014-15 school year. However, Daniel clarified that Ray-Pec will use the 2013-14 as a pilot year in preparation for the mandatory implementation of CCSS in the spring of 2015.
“No one is saying this is going to be easy,” Daniel said. “This will be a huge effort by everyone. This assessment is coming down the pike, and we are going to go the distance with Common Core State Standards.”
Board President Kim York asked how this assessment differs from other mandates in the past, such as MAP testing.
“Are we doing this because it’s a good idea, because it is a state or federal mandate, or because we will lose funding if we don’t?” asked York.
Daniel explained that DESE is serious about raising student achievement scores, and it thinks CCSS is the way to do it.
“At this point, we don’t know,” he said. “It may still be called MAP, but we do know that it will supersede what we have been doing. We are not just participating because Missouri says we have to — there is growing sentiment amongst educational leaders that these standards are imperative for us to compete with these other countries.”
In addition to the lengthy CCSS discussion as well as other informational updates, such as the Cass County Education/Youth Court presentation by the Judge William Collins, school board members addressed the following action items at the meeting:
In September, the district advertised for bids from qualified firms for audio/visual upgrades to the board room. The two bids received had a significant spread in price: Bid No. 1 was $32,343.90, plus an optional $15,199.65, while Bid No. 2 came in at $19,499.00. According to Jay Harris, assistant superintendent, administrative services, after analyzing the bids, it became evident that the two vendors had bid on different systems. Therefore, he recommended that the board reject both bids and reissue an improved RFP with more detailed specifications clarified. The board took Harris’ advice and rejected the bids.
Next, Harris asked the board to approve the district’s participation in the Mobile Mastery Consortium, which is submitting an application for funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top – District Competition. Since late August, the Raymore-Peculiar School District has been working within a consortium made up of eight school districts across Missouri (Raymore-Peculiar, Independence, Republic, Caruthersville, Kennett, Stockton, West Plains, and Kelso) to pursue $40 million in funding (that would be split between the eight districts) that would establish a personalized learning environment for students. If awarded, the grant will be used to create a personalized, student-focused learning environment through the use of technology, allow teacher professional development/access to a mobile device for the purpose of engaging students in their learning and to monitor student progress, and give every student access to a personalized learning environment through the use of a technology device (such as a digital tablet, laptop, iPad, e-reader, student-owned device, or any other Internet-enabled device). The administration asked the board for approval to remain a part of the grant consortium and submit the grant application to the by the deadline of Oct. 30. A motion to allow the district to submit this application was supported by all board members except for Ruth Johnson.
Harris approached the board with another decision when it came time to discuss hiring a firm to provide long-range facility planning services for the district. Of the five proposals received, Harris recommended that the board approve DLR Group to provide these services at a rate of $150 per hour — not to exceed $40,000. Board members unanimously approved this recommendation. The board also approved the district’s new strategic plan.