The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 2, 2013

Conneaut schools try new approach to boost scores

Bus routes staggered to isolate students for testing

CONNEAUT — School officials in Conneaut hope an experiment to boost students’ test results pays dividends when state report cards are released in the months ahead.

During the seven days of the Ohio Achievement Assessments, which recently concluded, bus schedules were altered to ensure only those students scheduled for testing were in buildings during the morning. Pupils not slated to be tested reported to school a short time later.

The jiggled bus schedule during the week was designed to create smaller test groups and minimize distractions for students taking the state-mandated scholastic tests, said Kent Houston, Conneaut Area City Schools superintendent. “We wanted a positive educational environment perfect for testing,” he said.

At the start of the school day over the week-long test period, buses only picked up children scheduled for exams. Students not set to be tested arrived on a second bus run, Houston said. The schedule required a slight additional expense for transportation costs, as well as plenty of coordination to ensure students arrived on time and received meals.

Meticulous planning preceding the test week apparently paid off.

“It ran as smooth as could be,” Houston said. “There were very, very few glitches.”

Feedback from educators and administrators has been encouraging, he said.

The special bus arrangement sent a strong message to students and parents that the OAAs are a big priority for the district, Houston said.

“It put an emphasis on how important the day was, that it was a special situation,” he said. “There was a big emphasis in everybody’s mind.”

OAAs are geared to students in grades 3 through 8 in a variety of subjects, including math and reading. The results comprise some of the indicators the state uses to “grade” districts. In the most recent report card, students in grades 3-5 and 7 did not meet the 75 percent proficiency required by the state in math. Conneaut passed 21 of 26 indicators and received an “effective” rating.

Houston said administrators will be very interested to see if the staggered bus run during test week helped test scores. “We’ll do whatever it takes” to boost results, he said.

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