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Support for SAT focus of U-46 testing, assessment program in the fall

The School District U46 Board of Education approved a testing and assessment program for college and career readiness, set to begin Oct. 19.

At the Monday meeting, officials approved a one-year, $91,854 contract extension to pay College Board for use of its SAT Suite of Assessments. Much like other schools districts throughout the state, District U46 is opting not to require the PARCC exam for high school students.

Chief Executive Officer Tony Sanders said the state’s action to end the PARCC exam requirement is a step in the right direction.

“This proposal tonight will align our systems in leading up to that SAT exam that all students will be taking pursuant of that state contract,” he said.

For many years, U-46 offered the ACT to students at no cost. When that contract expired and there was no state-backed college entrance exam available to students last spring, school officials said the state chose College Board’s SAT.

Laura Hill, director of assessment and accountability, said this contract extension is intended to replace previous assessments administered for career and college readiness.

“It’s so they can have the data overtime, so you have an eight-grade score, that then aligns with the ninth-grade score, which then aligns with the 10th -grade score, which then aligns with the final 11th-grade score as an ACT score,” she said. “It’s an alignment so you can predict, or see, where a student would be within that continuum in the secondary world.”

U-46 intends to use the assessment as a means to encourage the design of improved instructional activities for each student, provide information to determine individual student achievement and guidance needs, curriculum and instruction effectiveness, as well as school performance measured against District student learning objectives and national norms.

Officials said all those enrolled in 8th grade and high school will take a PSAT that is grade-level specific to help students and teachers know what skills to work on most in preparation for college and careers. That exam will also allow 11th grade students to be eligible for scholarships, based on their performance.

The contract will be paid for using monies in the Education Fund.

District U46 school officials adopt new concussion policy

Students enrolled in District U46 schools will find a new concussion policy goes into effect at the start of classes in the fall.

The school board unanimously approved the adoption of the new measure at Monday's meeting, which includes the formation of a concussion oversight team.

Among those named to the District U46 concussion oversight team were health services supervisor Jeffrey Judge, school nurse Patricia Kenyon and athletic director Mark Orszula.

"We wanted to make sure the policy addresses any issues involving student concussions for any student involved with any sport in any of our schools," Chief Legal Officer Miguel Rodriguez said. "We just broadened what we think is the intent of the law."

Board member Cody Holt said he applauds District U46 for taking the initiative to create the new team.

"I think this is a very, very important policy protecting our student athletes and our students, in general, who may have concussions on the playground or follow any of our sports," he said.

U-46 awards contract for behavior management hardware

Also during that meeting, officials awarded a $27,519 contract to Hero for behavior management hardware.

The district said the measure is hoped to curve student tardiness and incorporate more accountability in the classroom.

In June, the Board of Education approved the installation of the hardware, and that is still in progress. By August 10, school officials need the program to be running, so as to allow for installation and training.

U-46 contracted with PLASCO TRAC for use of its server-based program the last seven years. While 14 pieces of equipment were converted to the new platform, officials said another 30 pieces of equipment are deemed obsolete.

The contract will be paid for using monies in the Education Fund.

Contract for cognitive ability testing approved

The school district awarded a $75,850 contract extension to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for entrance examination of students considered for enrollment in the gifted program.

Cognitive Abilities Test is a K-12 assessment in areas most linked to success in academia, including verbal, quantitative and nonverbal, that is designed to measure students’ learned reasoning abilities. CogAT screening is a tool used in U-46 schools for many years.

The school district said approving the contract extension allows for continued use of testing, which allows them to identify academically talented students.

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