RANGELY I On Oct. 21, Rangely school board members accepted grant money from Chevron, discussed the level of student assessments used within the district, approved a new district vision statement and began discussion on a possible shift to a full-day kindergarten program.
The idea of a possible shift from half-day kindergarten to a full-day was a major topic of discussion. The suggestion was made by Parkview Elementary School Principal Mike Kruger and kindergarten teacher Kari Way. Kruger said he feels very passionately that full-day kindergarten is needed in the district.
Kruger said that in order for the teachers to meet the new Common Core standards and prepare students for testing, kindergartners need to be in school for a full day. He stated that the low scores in the spring of 2014 were partially to blame on the shortened kindergarten day. He also noted that as a school they were “skipping teaching science and social studies because it was not tested; now we have to,” referring to the new testing standards which include more science and social studies.
When board member Sam Tolley pointed out that “studies show a full- or half-day kindergarten washes out even after a few years,” Kruger responded that the “board needs to not fuss over low scores in kindergarden, first, second and third grades if we don’t have a full day of kindergarten.” Superintendent Matt Scoggins informed the board that the district would begin to explore this idea through parent surveys and community outreach.
In 2007, the voters of Rangely were presented with a ballot question regarding full-day kindergarten, which the community did not support at that time.
Early in the meeting, Scoggins and Rangely Junior/Senior High School science teacher Kyle Boydstun informed the board members and public that the district had received a $25,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) grant from Chevron.
Boydstun told the board that so far he has used the funds to purchase new textbooks, lab equipment and software, enabling him to teach an AP chemistry course this year with plans to grow into a physics program in the future.
AP, or advanced placement, courses allow students the option of receiving college credits for specific courses taken in high school that meet college standards. This is the first AP course offered at Rangely High School in recent history.
The board once again discussed their views on what they see as the over-testing of students in Rangely public schools.
Scoggins presented the board with information on what testing is required by the state and what testing the district adds voluntarily to that list. He informed the board that the required state testing currently “interrupts a classroom for two to three weeks” to which Tolley responded that “we should be testing the minimum level needed.”
Parent and community member Bart Nielsen told the board he could see the impact of testing on teachers at parent/teacher conferences this fall. He said that “at conferences the general feeling I got as a parent was that teachers are highly stressed about these tests.”
Several board members pointed out that because of Senate Bill 191’s requirement that 50 percent of teacher evaluations are to be based on assessments, a high stress level about the tests is understandable.
Scoggins brought up the fact that the district’s MAPS testing, given three times annually, is only required by the state to be given once, at mid-year.
Because of this, the district administration team will be considering dropping the spring MAPS testing since that is at time when the state tests are already given.
In other news, the board, in a quick, unanimous vote, adopted the new Rangely schools’ vision statement, which reads, “To be a district of innovation that inspires students to become life-long learners and positive difference-makers in society.”
The Rangely school board will meet again Nov. 18 at 6:15 p.m.