West Grand candidate question – week 5

0
1036

Five candidates submitted their petitions to run for the November election. Of the three seats, one held by Michele DeSanti was term-limited. Travis Hoesli was up for reelection but also gave up his seat early to move to North Carolina. The third seat is held by Jeremy Bock, and he is seeking re-election. Others throwing their names into the hat are Bryan Klotz, Jess Buller, Rebecca Guthrie, and Rhonda Shearer.

Those elected will join current board members Everett “Shorty” Lemon, Jessica Smiley, Michael “Mitch” Lockhart, and Shawn Lechman.

November’s election will be a mail-in ballot, and according to Grand County Clerk and Recorder, Sara Rosene ballots will be sent out on October 11.

The Grand Gazette will be featuring each of the candidates in a weekly forum where a question is answered by each candidate. The public is encouraged to send questions to [email protected] gmail.com.

Candidates appear in the order they will appear on the ballot.

West Grand candidate question – week 5

What are the trends in our standardized testing scores?

How are our schools rated?

In your view, do you feel these scores and trends are significant? Why or why not?

Rebecca Guthrie

Rebecca Guthrie

What are the trends in our standardized testing scores? The trends have not been consistent for every area, but overall have been improving for our district. There have been some obvious areas for improvement as well as impacts from changes made (for instance, teacher consistency in the Middle School a few years ago, changes in the math program, and continuing to expand services for English Languages Learners). The diversity of our community continues to change and it is the district’s responsibility to accommodate these changes.

Equally important is the amount of testing, the timing and the timeliness of the results. At the September board meeting, Superintendent Peppard confirmed that WGSD has a high “opt-out” level for student testing. While a few years ago this was the national trend, it has come to light that these “no score” students are potentially having a greater negative impact on the school district’s performance than low scores. As a parent, my child did opt out a few years ago. They were being tested in the spring and results were not shared until late fall. This large gap, in my opinion, just allowed a problem to be further compounded, effecting a student’s self-confidence. After understanding the effects on the district, we no longer opt-out and focus on the test results that are timely and the feedback from his teachers. I believe the opt-out will continue to decrease as students and parent understands the effects and the positive culture of WGSD is built up. How are our schools rated? Our school is 660 out of 965 according to www. schooldigger.com. Colorado schools are graded on their ability to offer academic opportunities for all students. Successful districts are working to close the achievement gap for their students, according to www.greatschools.org/colorado/.

In your view, do you feel these scores and trends are significant? Yes, we need to understand where the student body is academically. Also important is the “environmental health” of our student body. This can be challenges at home, bullying at school, etc., all of these affect how a student performs, therefore the board relies on administration and staff to monitor and report on these issues, as well as the parents. Why or why not? Testing is one area of measure, some students just do not test well. WGSD needs to produce well-rounded students who can, with challenge, confidently achieve their goals, this, in my opinion, is a success.

Jeremy Bock

Jeremy Bock

Trends in the past few years go up and down by a couple of points. Currently, we are sitting 94th in Colorado. With that being said there are so many variables with the testing. From low participation rates to the state changing standards midstream, kids who know the information and don’t test well. We did fall a bit from where we would like to be. We are switching over to SCAP(Student-Centered Accountability Project) which will really let us know where we are. These tests don’t really tell our story. There is always work to be done and I am proud of all our kids!! I personally believe in our School and Staff, and this is just a little piece of the pie.

Bryan Klotz

The Trends in our standardized tests scores over the last 10 years have been roughly within 10% of our state average. I feel its difficult to rate schools based upon their test scores. Hundreds of variables make up test ratings. These variables may or may not apply to our children. Our district is unique compared to most of the state. I encourage anyone interested in our districts standardized test scores to visit the Colorado Department of Education website. From there you can break down scores from classification to sub-classification.

While I understand the reasoning behind standardized testing strategies, I feel they do little in regards to our children’s individual growth & development. Data collected should serve as general census material for our state and federal officials. In no way should it represent the education level of our students. Learning ability, relevant material, and practical application are all too difficult to be standardized. Focus on individual development should be at the forefront of our curriculum.

Jess Buller

Jess Buller

Let’s get practical for a minute. It wouldn’t be difficult for me to throw a bunch of numbers at you, justifying this trend and denying that one. Some of the test scores provide stakeholders—particularly administrators and teachers—with valuable information, while other test scores are essentially meaningless to the overall mission and vision of the district. Throughout my years in public education, standardized tests and I have had a love-hate relationship. Ultimately, I have loved to hate them. Standardized testing came into the picture when the public lost its faith in one of its most valuable assets, the classroom teacher. And education has been on a downhill slide ever since.

I must admit that I am not totally turned off to the idea of standardized testing. We do need some type of measure that shows how our students are progressing in the fundamentals of readin’, writin’ and arithmetic. The research is clear that most kids who don’t learn to read by 3rd grade are in for a difficult future. And the number of students across the nation who are unable to read by 3rd grade is staggering. West Grand School District should seek to be the exception, not the rule when it comes to this statistic. Standardized testing alone won’t get us there, but the results—if used right—can give us a good measure of where we’re at and where we need to go.

At one time, I believed that the fundamental question a district had to answer was, “What should kids know and be able to do by the time they leave our schoolhouse doors?” A question like this can be rather easily answered through a standardized test. This is no longer the question we need to be asking, however. The question in 2019 should be, “Have we done enough to create passionate, life-long learners who are equipped with the skillsets necessary to master the challenges of an uncertain future?” If a standardized test can measure how we’re progressing towards that answer, I’m all for it. To date, I’m not aware of one that can.

Rhonda Shearer

Rhonda Shearer

I have not paid any attention to the overall test scores from the school district. I don’t think that success or failure for all students can be based on test scores alone. I also feel like there is always room for improvement. This subject is something I would have to know more about before collaborating on the best way to move forward.

**Candidates appear in order of how they will appear on the ballot **

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here