At Monday's meeting of the Webster City Community School District board of Directors, board members were put to task on a portion of what third to fifth graders might see in new testing for the 2014 to 2015 school year.
Director of curriculum Linda Williams gave an update on professional development, where school staff met recently for the second type of development this year. She posed a probability question to board members that asked them to choose one of three cards with numbers ranging from one to 17. Board members had to deduce which card would be filled the fastest if two spinners with numbers ranging from one to eight were spun and then added, then marked off on the card.
A sample from this draft test asks which card has the best possible chance of winning, give reasons for that answer, fill in a card that has the best chance of winning and then explain how one chose the numbers for that card. Williams said presenter at the professional development meeting, Susan Gendron, said how the question is asked is more important than the question.
Director of Curriculum Linda Williams presents her question to the school board about probability. The question is a sample of what students might see in testing for the 2014 to 2015 school year. The three groups the meeting split into were also split on the correct answer to her question, which was the leftmost card. Williams said explaining the answer was important, not getting the right one.
"It can be a very basic question, but it's how we present that basic question, how we expand that thinking," Williams said.
This type of learning encourages the highest levels of Bloom's taxonomy, a classification of learning objectives, according to Williams. Questions like this demands that a student expresses creativity, analysis and evaluation. Williams also allowed board members to collaborate on their answer, which she said is also an important aspect of learning.
The assessments will be performance based, according to Williams. She said there were concerns among teachers during the meeting, but the assessments are critical and based on criteria. These assessments can also be retaken, are not timed and teachers can opt for interim assessments of their classes.
"I think it's really going to help students take that knowledge and apply it in the real world," Williams said. "I think what's going to be so exciting and powerful for students is that they're going to have to explain the 'why.' 'Why did you come up with this answer,' instead of, 'I don't know, I just did it.' They have to explain the steps and that's what the assessment is going to ask."
Superintendent Mike Sherwood said at this level, teaching becomes coaching with more discovery and project based learning. Williams said the regional staff development day at Webster City High School was attended by about 350 staff members from Northeast Hamilton, Eagle Grove and six other area schools.
The board also approved an interfund loan for the food department. Board secretary Cathi Hildebrand said a loan of $50,000 is needed to get the department over the hump before the school receives federal reimbursement due to increased food costs and reduced revenues from food sales.
Sherwood said the school will need a few more months to determine the full impact of new school lunch requirements and guidelines. Those guidelines were imposed in August after being approved by congress. Board member Juli Jaycox said she has received many of comments about the new guidelines.
The board approved a bid for $91,500 from Midwest Tennis and Track to resurface the WCHS track. Sherwood said the track is near the end of its life cycle with noticeable erosion present on the rubber top coating. Track Surfaces Co. was declined with a bid of $99,000.
Midwest Tennis and Track installed the initial track and also did work on the high school tennis courts this year, and are based out of St. Charles, Ill. Sherwood said there is still time to work on the track for this fall.
During the meeting, Pam Hayes was elected President and Dan Ryherd was elected Vice President of the board. They were both administered the oath of office.