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School principals tout testing growth

Principals with the Brookhaven School District discussed the results of recent testing with the school board Tuesday night, and Superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharya believes the district is looking better than last year.

     An assessment test called Case 21 was used in the district to measure how students will do on the state standardized tests and identify areas of weakness. Administrators deem this particular assessment very accurate at forecasting student performance on standardized tests.

     “Case 21 was piloted last year and has proved very predictive,” said Missy Zinke, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

     Based on a Case 21 assessment given in October, Karmacharya said the district’s schools appear to be performing better than at this time last year in many subjects.

     At Mamie Martin, Principal Rob McCreary feels the students are still getting used to the format of the test, which requires them to use scantrons.

     Data from Martin is not as significant to the district overall, because Martin students don’t take state standardized tests and the school doesn’t receive a ranking by the state.

     However, Karmacharya did discuss the importance of creating strong foundations at Martin.

     “Success builds success,” she said.

     At Brookhaven Elementary School, Principal Janee Harrison said she’s identified vocabulary as an area in need of attention and said she had her teachers working on innovative ways to teach vocabulary.

     At Lipsey Middle School, reading scores are looking good, but data so far shows the school missing the growth that’s required, and sixth-grade math continues to be troublesome, said Principal Sonya Foster.

     Sixth-grade math has been a problem in the past, and Foster said she wants to solve the problem this year.

     At Brookhaven High School, Principal David Martin said testing data shows students scoring at the same level as students did at the end of last school year.

     Martin’s optimistic because there’s still time to bring this up.

     “We’re where we were at the end of last year, with 20 weeks to go and nowhere to go but up,” Martin said.

     However, Case 21 has proved controversial with some parents in the district because, in addition to its use as a predictive assessment, it was also used in the district’s schools as a nine-weeks exam worth 25 percent of students’ grades for that period.

     Some parents complained that the performance of their children on the Case 21 assessment did not match the grades their children have received in the past.

     Board members ultimately decided that poor communication with parents was at fault, particularly the timing of ensuring parents knew students would be graded on Case 21.