PIQUA — Doing away with PARCC testing is going to make things a lot easier for Piqua City School students this year.
Assistant Superintendent Dave Larson reported at the board of education meeting Thursday that because Gov. John Kasich signed into the budget bill to eliminate PARCC as the testing provider for Common Core, students will now be taking AIR (American Institutes for Research) for all subjects.
Larson said with the elimination, students will be taking fewer tests and time will be reduced for test-taking as passed by Ohio legislation. Students in grades 3-8 will take two rounds of testing in the spring and fall, with the exception of third graders, who will take an additional test in the fall for reading assessment.
The goal of the district is to be 100 percent online for testing with the exception of the OGT, which will fade out after the class of 2017. Larson said a letter grade for the district on testing will not be released until 2018.
Piqua High School Principal Tony Lyons reported the school having the highest composite average since 2002 for ACT testing, with a two-point increase.
Although Lyons recognizes this as a great achievement, he is aiming higher.
“I’m not satisfied with that and want to be competitive in the market,” Lyons said. Lyons credited the work of parents and staff for being involved with students to make this success.
Superintendent Rick Hanes and other staff members reported about the success of the REACH program that is helping kindergartners and first graders improve their reading skills through learning modules installed on their Chromebooks, which were funded by PBS Dayton through a grant.
Springcreek Principal Teresa Anderson stated there were two kick-off events for parents at Springcreek Primary and Washington Primary to train parents on how to navigate through the programs on the Chromebook. Washington had an 80 percent parent turnout rate, with Springcreek at 60-70 percent.
The success of the program relies heavily on parental involvement. Students work with their Chromebooks in the classroom and also continue the learning at home. Students are on their Chromebooks anywhere from 2-6 hours a day.
Director of technology Erich Heidenreich has the capability to monitor the Chromebooks when they are taken home, and saw some students were logged in around 10 p.m.
“I thought it was very cool that they would want to be on their device that late at night,” he said.
“Yeah, it’s 10 o’clock at night, but I’d rather them be working on something involved with school instead of other things that they could get into at that hour,” Hanes said. “(The program) has put a heavier weight on the tech department, but they have done a wonderful job … This has been an exciting project so far.”
Hanes said PBS of Boston, which represents PBS nationally, has heard of the program and is helping to promote the program. A video was shown at the meeting showcasing PCS, Franklin Monroe, and Milton-Union schools staff and administrators, all of whom have received the grant, to show how the program has aided their districts.
Business coordinator and project manager Curt South gave an update for the buildings projects. All three of the new buildings can be seen with letter signs with the school’s name on the outside, which were done by Creative Signs.
“We use our money wisely and try to do things we need,” South said, referring to the installment of the signs.
Currently, the former Nicklin Learning Center and Favorite Hill school buildings have been demolished, with Nicklin being the first to go. To follow, in order, will be Wilder Intermediate, which is currently in the process of demolition, Bennett Intermediate, and High Street Primary. Wilder has water being sprayed on it to keep the dust down.
Hanes said there are 34 additional zoning spots that the district would like to add to the west parking lot of Springcreek Primary, but have had difficulty with achieving funding from the state.
“It’s needed, if we need to pay for it on our own, we will do it,” Hanes said.
Director of athletics Chip Hare expressed appreciation for the board approving a new track for the high school and gave details on the project.
Hare said the track dates back to 1985 and tracks are meant to last 15-20 years.
“We have certainly got our money’s worth,” he said.
It is undecided if the track will be red or blue at this time and whether the base of track needs to be replaced as well.
“It will be a great addition to what is already a great facility,” he said.
Reach reporter Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.