Districts takes steps to help students struggling in math

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The Mobridge-Pollock School Board on Monday, June 9, heard a report of a new program to help students struggling with math and algebra and also proposed changes to student handbooks.

The board meeting was held in the Pollock Community Center, (formerly the Pollock School) and was attended by a handful of Pollock residents.

Superintendent Tim Frederick told the board that during the past two weeks, he and principal Joe Lenz have been working on a plan to help students struggling in math and algebra. He explained that he has researched setting up a summer program to help students gain the necessary skills to move forward in the courses. He said the program would be focused on specific skills that would help the students to pass assessments and get credit for these courses.

He said he has contacted the South Dakota Department of Education and the South Dakota High School Activities Association for information in how to structure and pay for the program. He said he believed Title 1 funding could be used to help fund the program because it helps kids that did not do well in the classes.

On Tuesday, Frederick said administration and board feel that it is necessary at this time to expand the math programs to help assist students with the skills that will be necessary for them to be successful in taking higher-level math courses through high school and higher education.

Frederick said the classes would be held in July and August. He said letters would be sent to the parents of the students who are in need of this program.

Title I funds will be used as the funding mechanism that allows the district to be able to implement these programs. Summer school is simply considered another strategy/intervention.

 

Handbook changes

Mobridge-Pollock Middle School and High School Principal Joe Lenz and Elementary Principal Jill Olson reviewed changes for the student hand- books for the 2014-2015 school year.

Some of the changes were minor and included wording on certain policies. Others included clarifying district policy. Most of the notable changes concern the middle and high schools.

Those changes include policies concerning tardiness, missing classes for activities and changes to assessment policies.”

Concerning middle school students missing classes for activities, Lenz said there has been some lack of enforcement of rules pertaining to making up the work. He said the new policy will be enforced as it is stated in the handbook.

That policy states that if a student is leaving school early for a school sponsored activity during or before sixth period, they are required to complete a make-up slip. It is the coaches’ responsibility to provide make-up slips to student-athletes in a timely manner. Make-up slips must be signed by all teachers whose classes would be missed due to the activity.

The attendance policy will also be updated because of the difficulty in enforcing certain aspects of the rules. Removed from the policy is the rule pertaining a student missing more than ten class sessions per semester. Students with more than 10 absences in any one class were not given credit for the class unless otherwise determined by the Attendance Review Team. The administration currently enforces attendance/truancy by communicating directly with parents and also the state’s attorney when necessary. Lenz said this seems to be the most effective manner in which to deal with chronic absentees.

Concerning students who are tardy to classes, Lenz said the policy needed to be simplified.  A student who is not present for any part of the first fifteen minutes of any class, any period, will be counted tardy. Students late to any period that does not have a pass from a teacher or the central office excusing them for being late will be subject to the following consequences (all consequences start new at the beginning of each quarter.)

For one to six tardies, staff members will discuss the tardy with the student and give this student an immediate consequence to be served.

For seven through 10 tardies, the student will be assigned one day extended school day session from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.

With 10 or more tardies in a quarter a student will be assigned to two extended school day sessions and a letter will be sent to parents explaining the policy and the violations.

Each quarter students will have a clean slate concerning tradies.

 

Simplify policies

Lenz explained this change is to simply the policy first and foremost. Also it was the general consensus that giving students in-school suspensions was not having a positive impact on the situation.

The idea is that the students should be required to spend additional time outside of school.

In reading and math recovery, the results were not as anticipated in 2013-2014. Lenz said students will no longer receive additional reading and math instruction throughout the week because officials were not seeing the success that they had hoped for with the AIMSweb program. In 2014-2015 the district will utilize this time to meet the needs of the students through the ICU program.

The new policy will be that all middle school students will be given a benchmark assessment three times per year in reading and math (fall, winter, and spring). These benchmark assessments will level students based on their individual ability and will thus assist in determining which reading and math class they should attend.

These assessments will also help drive instruction in the classrooms and reports will be sent home to parents on their child’s progress three times per year.

 

New hires

The board also approved offering contracts to Shawn Geigle as an elementary teacher and head girls basketball coach and Daniele Geigle as a speech pathologist for the 2014-2015 school year.

The board also approved contracts for Jenny Bosch and Nikki Bosch as special education paraprofessionals at $13.25 and $13.00-$13.25 respectively. The women will be working with an individual with special needs and with elementary students.

Frederick also reported that he is hopeful to have news concerning filling the elementary music teacher position later this week.

- Katie Zerr -

 
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