Greenfield district is confident in WKCE efforts

Published on: 4/24/2012

Greenfield - Greenfield schools are more than holding their own compared with schools statewide as measured by the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam, said Assistant Superintendent Todd Bugnacki.

Although the Greenfield School Board won't evaluate the WKCEs until May or June, Bugnacki said there is reason for optimism.

In reading, for example, six of the seven grades tested outdid the state average in the percentage of students at or above grade level, he said. Similarly, five of the seven grades tested in math had more students proficient than statewide.

Only three grades are tested in language arts, science and social studies. All three grades in Greenfield beat the state average in all three subjects, Bugnacki said.

Having a high percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced is important because it is a measure of how well the schools keep children from falling behind. The goal is for 100 percent of students to be proficient or advanced, although no school in the four-county Milwaukee metro area has been able to do that in all five subjects tested.

The WKCE doesn't measure how advanced students are, but what proportion of students are at or above grade level.

Initiatives now in place

The Greenfield schools have a number of initiatives under way that school officials hope will bring scores up, Bugnacki said.

One of the most important, he said, is the classroom walk-through, in which administrators visit classrooms at least every week to observe.

'At this point, we are collecting data and beginning to analyze and reflect on the results with teachers,' he said.

Another initiative is the Measures of Academic Progress testing, he said. This is the first year that teachers will be able to measure a full year's growth in each student, he said. Teachers give MAP tests periodically and are then able to pinpoint learning stumbling blocks and progress.

Intervening as needed

While these measures are aimed at helping all students, the schools also offer special help before and after school for students who score basic or minimal on the WKCE.

The district has a cadre of 'interventionists' - specialists who use strategies and progress monitoring tools - to aid those students, Bugnacki said.

'This is our first full year of using this model to provide interventions. Our initial assessment of our intervention program shows great promise,' he said.

Another idea along those lines that was just presented to the School Board on Monday is offering interventions at lunch times. The administration offered the concept of reducing each class period minimally and shaving a minute off the passing times between classes to assemble more than 20 minutes of intervention time at lunch.

Although the concept is in its first stages, School Board President Bruce Bailey viewed the effort so far as a step in the right direction.

'We're trying to find ways to improve student achievement scores,' without spending more money, he said.

The advantage of having special help during the school day is that many students have to get home or have jobs, he said.

Board member David Richlen said, 'This is out of the box thinking. If we are looking to improve, this is the kind of thing we want them to come up with.'