May 02, 2012School District Superintendent Kent Hemingway and Sandie MacDonald, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Director, recently reported positive feedback from the district's 2012 Adequate Yearly Progress reports.
Hemingway explained that the AYP report is a national performance indicator for school districts, created as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.
According to Hemingway, the AYP reports are based on student proficiencies in reading and mathematics, measured through their performance on the annual NECAP exams administered in the fall.
"We had a great deal of success," said Hemingway. "Areas where we haven't had success, we are working on."
In 2011, MacDonald explained that the Gilford School District did not meet the AYP requirements because the schools' overall scores were skewed by the test results among students with educational disadvantages of economic hardships.
According to MacDonald, now that the district has met AYP requirements, they are eligible to be taken off "District In Need of Improvement" status if they meet AYP standards in 2013.
While the report is more for the district as a whole rather than the individual students, Hemingway said that the reports have influenced changes in the district which greatly benefited students by increasing focus on comprehension.
"One core commentary is 'make sure they get it,'" said Hemingway. "We're putting a different spin on things like summer school."
Hemingway explained that instead of students failing a key subject like math or English in a traditional sense, they receive an incomplete mark, meaning they haven't finished, and need to come back and complete the course. Hemingway said this gets rid of the old sense that students who fail simply walk away.
MacDonald explained that this repot is only one of many tools the district administration uses to measure the performance.
At the high school level, district officials have information from SAT scores and AP exams, but they need to find and help any struggling students at a younger age.
"Sometimes, we need to stop where we are and pick those kids up," said MacDonald.
Subgroups of students as young as third grade up from the AYP report help officials identify areas where they need to intervene to ensure student success later in their academic careers.
Hemingway explained that they are now seeing improvements from changes implemented by former GHS Principal Ken Wisewell, including 70-minute block classes and delayed entry Wednesdays for students, which allows teachers to have weekly conference periods.
"He made a lot of changes," said Hemingway, explaining that they are beginning seeing positive results. "It's difficult when you don't see [improvements] right away."
In conclusion, Hemingway said they are celebrating the High School faculty for embracing the many changes for the benefit of the students. He said this gave them hope for making positive changes in all grades, kindergarten through high school as they continue to improve the district.