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D157-C officials opt in favor of FastBridge assessment over TerraNova

Frankfort School District 157-C will utilize a new, local assessment for measuring student achievement when classes resume in a couple months.

District administrators presented an update June 21 to school officials and reported that teachers will start utilizing FastBridge, not TerraNova.

Change in the local assessment will help the district in acquiring metrics to be used in comparison with PARCC, which is the state assessment for measuring student achievement to standards adopted by the state.

“Although they say it is aligned to the [State’s] standards, we have found that that alignment is very weak,” said Janet McClarence, director of curriculum and instruction. “With that being said, we have really been in discussion about transitioning away from TerraNova, and my goal was to next school year be fully transitioned away from TerraNova and have adopted a new assessment.”

To this point, TerraNova has been administered in the fall for students in grades second through seventh in English language arts and math.

The district’s multi-tier systems of support committee met this past spring to review several assessments. They selected FastBridge, and went on to pilot the program to gain feedback from teachers.

“[We] got results from the teachers,” McClarence said. “Our hope, our goal was to this coming school year to implement FastBridge district-wide [in] Kindergarten through eight grade in ELA and math, and in addition, give our TerraNova assessment.”

That is no longer the case, however.

“We had been getting some hints [of] TerraNova, the company, when things were kind of going awry,” McClarence said, noting school districts administering the tests had to wait months to receive results.

“We made the decision that we’re going to continue with FastBridge, and that will be our assessment,” McClarence said. “We will not be giving TerraNova in the district starting in the fall.”

FastBridge is to be given to students three times a year using an online format, and its results are reported to teachers immediately. It will provide information to determine the level at which a student is performing according to four benchmarks: high risk, moderate risk, low risk or college pathway.

“We’ll be able to see and teacher will be able to see immediately after the assessment the report,” McClarence said. “They can run a report. Reports can be shared with parents. It will show deficits, and it will also show the level—the performance level—the student falls on.”

Board Member Edie Adamski questioned if FastBridge will require more time of teachers.

McClarence refuted the concern and said it’s a lot quicker.

“Actually, if you look kind of minute by minute, I guess, TerraNova did take a chunk of time,” she said. “It took us a week, and then we did the following week for make-ups. So, that was a lot of instructional time.”

The cost to utilize FastBridge and TerraNova differs, as well. The district spent nearly $100,000 to administer TerraNova, whereas FastBreak amounts to about $6 per student.

McClarence remembers speaking with other districts that are using FastBridge, and said they’re telling her the kids who are falling into college pathway are meeting the standards set by PARCC.

“We’re looking forward to kicking off a great year with a new assessment with the new data that will really help us guide where we need to be in the benchmarks that kids need to hit prior to leaving that school year,” McClarence said.

School board takes first look at 2017-2018 budget

Also at that meeting, the board took a preliminary look at the district’s budget.

The report showed that finances are balanced with a small surplus projected in the education fund and a small deficit expected in the operations and maintenance fund, said Curt Saindon, the district’s assistant superintendent.

“Overall, all funds combined [to] about $487,000—about a little over a 1.5 percent [increase over last year’s budget,]” he said. “We should be good. I mean, there’ll be some final tweaking… We’ll take care of that at the beginning of July. The budget books come out in August.”

Saindon said the budget shouldn’t change dramatically upon further review by officials.

“We have a few hires we need to add in, some benefits—depending on what they selected,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things, all major capital projects, construction costs are all included.”

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