Student testing schedule to change

By Belinda M. Paschal -

PIQUA — During the last academic year, 72 hours — or 12 school days — were spent administering end-of-course exams at Piqua High School, a process Assistant Principal Lori Sexton called “exhausting” not only for staff, but for students, many of whom had overlapping tests.

Sexton discussed the matter during the Piqua City School Board of Education’s monthly meeting on Wednesday evening. She said the problem will be eliminated by dismissing students who are not taking exams two hours early on test day, which will reduce the number of test hours and decrease distractions for students taking the test. In addition, there will be at least a week between tests, so that exams like the ACT and the American Institute of Research (AIR) test won’t overlap, thus giving students a “brain break,” Sexton said.

The school board also heard numerous updates on various projects in the district, including a review of the standards-based grading system presented by Director of Curriculum (K-6) Teresa Anderson.

Standards-based grading entails measuring students’ proficiency on well-defined course objectives (or standards). Rather than give students one grade on a test that assessed multiple skills, this system gives students a number of scores representing their proficiency in each of the skills assessed.

The idea is that at the end of the class, the student has mastered the essential content necessary for the next level. The system focuses on knowledge rather than points or letter grades.

Anderson discussed some elements of the system including prioritizing standards, developing a proficiency scale and doing assessments (ways to ensure the student has mastered a specific standard). The system has not been implemented in the district and Anderson emphasized that parents would be notified and educated if any such action was taken.

Mindy Gearhardt, principal of Washington Primary School, which hosted the BOE meeting, gave a building update along with Assistant Principal Shannon Pence. The pair discussed the continuing success in achieving Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) goals at the school. PBIS is a proactive approach to establishing behavioral supports necessary for students to be successful socially, emotionally and academically. The approach teaches children appropriate social behaviors such as being respectful, responsible and kind.

The students are given incentives and rewards like the chance to participate in indoor games, Gearhardt said, adding, “The kids really enjoyed it and had a good time.”

Gearhardt and Pence also discussed Washington Primary’s literacy progress, listing several measures that are being taken to help struggling readers, from weekly teacher meetings to scheduling additional interventions for students in need.

Students of all reading abilities also are encouraged to read independently and library staff is invested in finding out what interests the youngsters and what topics they are studying in the classroom.

In other business, the board approved the summer OGT program to be held at Piqua High School from June 5-23, and for the secondary summer school program to be held at the high school during that same time period.

The board was honored for School Board Recognition Month with certificates, as well as posters signed by students, presented to them by each building principal.

“I personally feel very supported by the interest that you take in our staff and students,” District Superintendent Dwayne Thompson said of the board.

The next board of education meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 23, at Piqua Central Intermediate School.

By Belinda M. Paschal

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341