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Academy Board Votes To Change Testing For Grades 3-7 – Brevard, NC


Last updated 2/15/2021 at 1:58pm

The Brevard Academy: A Challenge Foundation Academy Board of Directors voted unanimously last Wednesday evening to replace MAP testing in grades 3-7 with i-Ready testing this spring.

Historically, the school has used MAP tests, a diagnostic tool used by many charter schools across the country, to assess students’ progress through-out the year.

School director Ted Duncan, however, said i-Ready, another diagnostic and instructional tool used by many public schools in North Carolina, including Brevard Academy this year, provides “fairly similar data” as the MAP tests.

“Adding both MAP and i-Ready would be a heavy testing load for them in the spring,” said Duncan, who added that those students also would have to take standardized end-of-grade tests.

Duncan said teachers did not want to lose another instructional day to standardized testing and “burn out” kids with standardized testing. He said he and teachers questioned the worth of having another data point (a spring MAP test) and losing an instructional day when i-Ready already provides similar data. Board member Lee Burgess asked if the eighth grade would remain with MAP testing this year.

Duncan said eighth grade students would remain with the MAP test this year because it is “more understood” by the high school and that is what the school’s instructional support and improvement teams recommended.

Burgess then asked how comfortable students would be taking the i-Ready tests in grades 3-7 but taking a MAP test in grade 8.

“This is just for this year,” said Duncan.

Duncan said that once the school is comfortable with i-Ready the school could replace MAP testing with i-Ready.

Board member Adrienne Casteen said she was a little concerned about making the change because this is the first year the school has used i-Ready.

“Our only consistent variant would be MAP testing,” said Casteen in determining if students had made progress. “We don’t have that baseline. We have a lot of variables there that we haven’t eliminated yet. That’s my only hesitation.”

Duncan said, however, that while teachers are more familiar with MAP tests, they are learning how to use i-Ready as a diagnostic tool to help guide instruction. He said i-Ready also feeds into personalized instruction.

“That’s one of the benefits of the program,” said Duncan.

Other advantages of i-Ready, according to Duncan, are that is it more aligned with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and the test scores it provides more accurately reflect how students would perform on the state end-of-grade tests.

Duncan said both diagnostic tests were given in the fall and winter and that third grade teacher Jennifer Kelly dug into the results. She found the i-Ready data is more in line with what she is seeing in her classroom assessments whereas MAP tests showed students performing at a higher level than they actually did on their state end-of-grade tests.

“Rather than being unpleasantly disappointed, we would hope to be pleasantly surprised because we’re not getting a false sense of who’s on grade level and who’s not,” said Duncan.

Mark Franklin, the Challenge Foundation Properties representative on the board, said Piedmont Charter has been using i-Ready and found it to more accurately reflect how students would perform on the end-of-grade tests.

Earlier in the meeting, three teachers discussed other academic changes the staff is reviewing.

Kelly said there has been a discrepancy in the MAP results, classroom performance and honor roll achievement.

Kelly said there is a committee reviewing the grading process, what grades actually reflect and what “mastery-based grading would look like.”

“What we really want is our grades to be as transparent as possible,” said Kelly.

Amber Wolfe, who teachers fifth grade language arts and social studies, said teachers are looking at how to improve the writing curriculum, including grammar, mechanics and revision.

“We’ve been working for the past couple of years to develop a writing continuum,” she said, which includes looking at both the state standards and Core Knowledge curriculum.

Charlotte Shackleford, who teachers fourth grade math and science, said Core Knowledge recently came out with a new science curriculum entitled Core Knowledge Amplify.

“With the new edition, they have now removed all of the first edition material from their website,” said Shackleford.

She said the question is whether or not to continue with the new Core Knowledge curriculum, “which changes the order in which things are taught.”

“It changes things quite a bit,” said Shackleford.

She said teachers are trying to find the best way to align the science curriculum with the state standards because fifth grade students have to take an end-of-grade test in science.

Financial Update

Burgess, who chairs the Finance Committee, said the school is projected to have a year-end surplus of $152,663.

That surplus is based an enrollment of 450 students, which is contingent on the state holding schools harmless for a decrease in enrollment due to COVID-19.

“That’s what the budget is currently reflecting,” said Burgess.

Burgess also reported that he has been in contact with a representative of the USDA regarding a potential loan for an art building. He said since the school received a loan for the new campus from the USDA, the school might be able to skip some of the beginning stages in the loan process for a second loan.

Other News

•The board voted to use Kelly Services to provide substitutes and temporary staff.

Duncan said at present finding substitutes falls on one person and that substitutes have been hard to find during COVID-19. He said Kelly Services has a pool of substitutes and other temporary staff that they have already vetted. Duncan also said some of those temporary employees could become full-time employees.

“There is a way to convert them to a full-time employee,” said Duncan.

Burgess asked if this was just a short-term solution during the COVID-19 pandemic or longer term.

He added that it would be easier on school personnel to use Kelly Services but it would be more money out of the school’s budget.

Duncan said there is no contract in terms of payment if the school does not use the service.

•The school gathered more than 1,800 cans, the equivalent of 1,500 meals, for MANNA Food Bank.

•Duncan said more students should be returning to school for in-person instruction for the fourth quarter with approximately 30 students remaining totally online for instruction.

“That’s a really good thing,” Duncan said of students returning to school.

•The board agreed to move forward in becoming a Blue Zones certified school.

•The school will join a new athletic conference next year and a golf team will be created.

•The board unanimously agreed to appropriate $9,000 from a donation for a partition in the front office.

•The next meeting of the board of directors will be held Wednesday, March 10, at 5:30 p.m.


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