Principals provide updates to Andalusia BOE ahead of state testing

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, March 21, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Principals updated members of the Andalusia Board of Education last week on efforts to help students achieve growth on upcoming state standardized tests.

For students in elementary grades through eighth grades, students are preparing for the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP) tests which provide information regarding student growth in meeting Alabama Course of Study Standards. Students in grades 2 through 8 take assessments in English/Language Arts and Math. Students in fourth, sixth, and eighth grades are also tested in science.

Student growth among high school students is based on the ACT test.

AES Principal Victoria Anderson that in addition to every day instruction in reading, math, and science, additional instruction is provided to students who need help.

“Tier II instruction is for those who may need extra help in those subjects. Tier III is where we have certified interventionists come in and work with those students who continue to struggle.

She said school faculty utilizes an “ACAP blueprint” to help determine which standards students need to work on in math and reading. Teachers use “ACAP Item Specs,” which is a roadmap that helps them meet grade level standards.

Students took a practice ACAP test in December and data from that practice test is being used to determine where instruction is most needed.

“We are teaching our students how to use training tools, which helps students with typing, click-and-dragging, and all the tools they will need to use (for testing),” Anderson said. “In January, we started our Learning Ladder, which is an after-school tutoring program that meets three days a week. We have a lot of our students participating and we should see improved test scores this year.”

During the summer, the principal said, a reading and math camp is held, providing students additional learning opportunities. The reading portion of the camp provides 60 hours of instruction while allowing 40 hours in math. It is a three-week camp.

Elementary students are also using iReady, which provides individualized learning plans.

“It takes students from where they are and putting them on their own path to success,” Anderson said.

The school had its ACAP pep rally on Wednesday, March 13, as testing began Monday and will continue into next week. Students who meet goals will receive awards such as classroom parties as well as a trip to an arcade.

Principal Ray Wilson said Andalusia High School has set goals to increase overall student proficiency to: 36 percent in English and Language Arts; 45 percent in Math; and 43 percent in Science. All high school scores are based on ACT tests taken by sophomores and juniors. Juniors took the test last week.

Teachers at AHS have attended a three-hour ACT Test professional development class and that juniors have participated in Primary Intervention Programs (PIP) that rotates between the courses of English, Math, Science, Reading and Writing. Wilson said school administrators met with students individually to review their past ACT scores and setting new personal goals.

“The state looks at growth from the Pre-ACT to the ACT test to determine a student’s growth. Basically, what we are doing in these meetings is working with them and coming up with a plan to meet certain goals,” Wilson said.

Wilson said over 60 students participated in Pre-Act meal in the school’s cafeteria on the Monday evening before testing and that all juniors were provided a breakfast that morning. High school students who achieve benchmark in two or more subjects, or who move up a level in two or more subjects, will be awarded a special trip. Also, for every subject a student benchmarks, they can exempt that subject’s semester exam the following year. Other rewards include sports passes, parking passes, and free prom tickets.

At AJHS, iReady has been utilized to prepare students and teachers have undergone additional professional development training in preparing for ACAP testing. Like the high school, Wilson said administrators held one-on-one meetings with seventh and eighth graders to determine individualized goals.

“We talk about what they made in the fall and the winter on the iReady diagnostic tests and we set goals for them,” Wilson said.

Rewards for meeting goals or proficiency include a trip to a trampoline park and sports passes.

Other items discussed by the board included:

  • approving Calculus as an option for those students in the AHS honors program;
  • approving a job description and hiring of a Sign Language Interpreter. The position will be funded through a state grant and the contract will be canceled if the position is no longer needed.
  • approving the 2024-25 calendar with the first day for students being August 1. Superintendent Daniel Shakespeare said teachers voted among several calendar options and the one presented to the board received the most votes.
  • approving to enter into a group bid option with Brewton City Schools, Escambia County Schools and Geneva County Schools. The group bidding will be utilized when items are not available through the state bid list. The systems will bid as a group as a way to decrease costs.

The next board meeting was set for Monday, April 15, with the meeting following board training.