Archive for Tuesday, February 18, 1992

SCHOOL BOARD LEARNS PRICE OF ASSESSMENT PROGRAMS

February 18, 1992

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Increasing the accountability of Lawrence schools won't come without a price tag, and on Monday the Lawrence school board learned what costs could accompany new efforts to assess students' progress.

The board received those estimates during a study session to examine its goals for the 1992-93 school year.

A new emphasis for the board is establishing and measuring "student outcomes," or skills and personal characteristics that students should acquire after completing lessons, course units, courses, grade levels and their entire elementary and secondary education.

The Kansas Department of Education's new Quality Performance Accreditation program, in which Lawrence is participating as a pilot district, also stresses student outcomes as the basis for accrediting schools.

SANDRA CHAPMAN, the district's director for student outcomes, said the district's budget for student assessment could increase from $37,225 this year to as much as $95,775 in 1992-93, depending on how much the board wants to spend. Chapman said many of the possible expenditures would be one-time costs.

Board President Mary Loveland said the board likely will make no decision on the proposals until the Kansas Legislature settles on a school finance plan.

"We would prefer to consider these things with full knowledge of what the status of state funding is going to be," she said.

AMONG additional expenditures the board will consider are:

An estimated $3,000 for expanding to the fifth grade a writing assessment that was administered in grades seven and 10 this school year.

An estimated $18,000 to bring elementary schools on line with the district's mainframe computer. The move would provide schools with greater access to student data.

About $500 for developing a follow-up survey on students who participated in Developmental First Grade, which helps kindergarten graduates who are not quite ready for first grade.

About $1,000 for developing a follow-up survey on Lawrence High School graduates.

BOARD MEMBER Tom Murray lauded the idea of finding out how LHS graduates had fared in post-secondary activities with the skills they had developed in the district.

Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander said the district could hold down district costs on some of the new assessment procedures by getting grants and forming consortiums with other districts. He noted that the district implemented its new writing assessment this year with the help of a state grant and the cooperation of five other districts.

Sandee Crowther, the district's director for staff development, said the staff development budget could increase by as much as $22,000 to educate teachers about the new assessment procedures.

ONE SUCH effort would involve a weeklong training of 45 teachers in writing outcomes, implementing outcomes and making sure teaching could be tailored to both high achievers and somewhat slower learners. That training would cost about $13,000.

"I don't know how we can do this without getting all the teachers exposed to it," Murray said of the training. "I wish there were some way of having this more broadly based."

Neuenswander said he thought it more important to get "a corps of people who are well-versed in writing outcomes and writing assessments of outcomes."

Crowther agreed, saying that those teachers who volunteer for the training likely are "going to be your leaders who would help other people feel more comfortable with the concepts."

The board will continue its discussion of 1992-93 goals at a later date.

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