Madison County school officials are paying attention to Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) and how other school systems are using the assessments.

“Our principals have asked us to look at that again,” county assistant school superintendent Jody Goodroe told school board members April 13.

Superintendent Michael Williams said MAP is an assessment “that is being piloted throughout the state and being used by other districts.”

“MAP is an assessment that would be given throughout the year instead of a one-time Georgia Milestone at the end of the year,” said Williams. “And so it would be less high stakes, less pressure as the year goes along. You’re assessing with MAP instead of that one-time shot at the end of the year.”

He said such assessments are less of a burden on students.

“None of us want to sit still and do an assessment for two or two-and-a-half hours, kids either,” said Williams. “So these are shorter assessments.”

School board chairman Robert Hooper said he would prefer assessments when material is fresher on students’ minds than at the end of the year.

“I’ve forever thought that waiting until the end of the year, that’s too long,” he said.

Goodroe said that MAP is not like typical tests. The computer assessments are used to determine areas of need for each student.

“They’re computer adapted to where you are,” said Goodroe. “And that helps hone in on the skills the kid needs versus I’m going to give you a test that covers all of this and if you only know this portion, then you took a two-and-a-half or three-hour test that you only knew this part. How you answer question one determines what you get for question two. That really helps hone in on where the kid is and what the kid needs.”

The school board took no action on MAP and is only discussing the possibility of using the program. Williams and Goodroe both said they don’t want to “over-assess” students and load them down with too much.

“A lot of systems in the state use MAP already and that is something we started reviewing last year,” said Williams. “And I don’t know if Georgia Milestones will ever go away, but I think if it does, MAP will replace it, or something very similar.”

In a related matter, Georgia Milestones started this week for elementary schools, with middle school testing starting April 28.

IN-PERSON LEARNING

In a separate matter, Goodroe praised the school board for keeping students in-person as much as possible this school year.

“We’ve made it through a year,” said Goodroe. “Thank you to y’all. Our kids need to be face to face. Our data shows it. Our teachers do an amazing job with our kids, and we wouldn’t have been able without y’all.”

Goodroe said that assessment data shows that students who have been out for extended periods typically take a couple of months to get back on track academically.

“What we have been seeing is that once they get back with our teachers, it takes about six-to-eight weeks and then we see their data bounce back,” he said. “So we’re seeing that kids are really resilient and that teachers are really resilient. But that’s going to be an ongoing thing as we move forward.”

The county school system is receiving $8.8 million in federal coronavirus relief funds, and 20 percent of that funding must be allocated toward learning loss from the pandemic. So, more options for Madison County students who have fallen behind will be available. The school system is also considering other ways to spend the federal funds, with help toward a county broadband internet system raised by Williams as a possibility.

SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS

In other matters, Williams said the school board will start back with its special recognitions during its June and July meetings. The recognition portion of the meetings was suspended for the past year due to covid.

“We’ve had some really great accomplishments this year, and we’ve gone without special recognition of our students, and I’d like to start back doing that if things continue on the trend we’re on,” he said.

FUNDS FROM THE STATE

Williams said the school system has not gotten its official allotment from the state yet on 2021-22 revenues. This past year, revenues were cut by 10 percent below the funding formula. The superintendent said the overall revenues from the state to school systems will be four percent below the state’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula.

“So that will be a little bit of an increase from last year’s (revenues),” he said. “It’s still not fully funded, but we appreciate the reduction in austerity.”

The superintendent added that equalization funds, which are allocated to equalize poorer districts with richer ones, along with charter system funds, nursing funds and transportation money will not be reduced from the state.

“We will have a balanced budget and we’ll continue to work on that over the next several weeks,” he said.

EDUCATOR BONUSES

Bonuses of $1,000 for educators approved by Gov. Brian Kemp were distributed last week.

“Our staff has been excellent and I can’t say enough great things about the work they’ve done this year, as well as our students,” said Williams.

Williams noted April 13 that only 30 days of school remained at that time.

“Thirty days of school left his year and a majority of our time has been face to face instruction,” he said. “We’re very proud of that.”

GRADUATION SET FOR MAY 29

Graduation will be May 29 at 9 a.m. at the high school stadium.

“We’re looking forward to that ceremony and having it here at our high school again,” he said.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR

Assistant superintendent Mandy Wommack talked about preparing the school budget for next year, but added that “I want to take a moment to reflect on where we were last year.”

“It was really scary; it was a hard time, trying to figure out how we were going to make it work for the school system and still provide the services for our students and staff to make sure everybody was safe,” she said. “So looking at where we were, it’s an exciting time to be back on track, to be planning as we normally do.”

Wommack reported that $214,320 in sales tax funds were collected for the system March.

She provided school board members with the 140th day student enrollment reports and said, “We’re monitoring numbers and beginning to make projections for the next school year.”

Wommack reported that the audit for 2019-2020 was completed with auditors not finding any problems.

“Everything was in order; procedures are being followed,” said Wommack.

Williams praised the system’s finance staff, from the bookkeepers in the schools to the central office.

TRANSPORTATION FACILITY

Wommack said the system is moving forward with plans for a new school system transportation facility. The project has been advertised, and bids for the project are scheduled to be opened for May 6.

“We will then work on getting a price estimate,” she said. “And then bring that back to the table for discussion and move forward in the planning stages.”

BRCCA SIGNING DAY

Broad River College and Career Academy is planning a signing day on Wednesday, May 5.

“Picture the athletic football player with a big banner behind them, except now you’re going to work at Georgia Metals,” said Goodroe. “That’s awesome for our kids. They need to be recognized whether in the athletic field or in the classroom or what they do on the job.”

Williams added: “Some of our kids are really skilled. They’re in there welding, doing electrical work, plumbing, and those kids are going to be able to come out of high school making good money. And they’re going to find a job. So that’s awesome.”

PERSONNEL ACTIONS

The school board approved the following personnel actions April 13:

•Colbert Elementary: added Fifth Grade Club duties for Tracey Evans, Jennifer Gibbons and Brittany Wilkes; added After School duties for Chelsea Sikes.

•Comer Elementary: intermittent leave without pay for teacher Melanie Ingram.

•Early Learning Center: leave without pay for paraprofessional Conny Reagin.

•Hull-Sanford Elementary: hire Misty Coley to replace C. Knight as a special ed teacher, approve internal replacement of Christa Hanley for teacher L. Beasley, hire Kaylan Marlowe to replace teacher C. Dobbs, hire Bianca McCants to replace teacher C. Hanley, hire Rachel Pittman to replace paraprofessional K. Marlowe.

•Ila Elementary: hire Allison Bess to replace T. Moore as a bookkeeper, approve leave without pay for special ed teacher Christy Sapp.

•MCHS: accept resignation of Clint Tanner as a science co-teacher/track effective at the end of the school year.

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