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By DAVE HINTON
Rantoul Press editor
GIFFORD — School board members learned that Gifford Grade School had received a state academic excellence award and were told of upcoming changes in ISAT testing.
Superintendent Vic Grimsley told the board at its monthly meeting last week that the Illinois State Board of Education had given the school its Academic Excellence Award.
The award is given for making adequate yearly progress in 2011 and 2012 and having 90 percent of the students meeting state standards in both reading and math for the three most recent school years.
Adequate yearly progress is a measurement defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically according to results on standardized tests.
Grimsley said a recognition ceremony would be held, the date of which will be announced.
ISAT changes coming. The board learned of changes to ISAT tests.
“Last year’s scores in reading and math were a combined 92 percent of students meeting and exceeding (standards) on the ISAT test, (but) would now be at 67.5 percent ... with the new scoring changes in place,” Grimsley said.
The district will send out information to parents explaining the changes.
Survey coming. Grimsley also informed the board that a new5Essentials Survey will be taken by sixth- through eighth-grade students, teachers and parents of students in the district.
The results of the survey will be placed in the school report card next fall and should be used for school improvement purposes.
5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide. Fifty percent of students and teachers will be required to take the assessment as well as 20 percent of parents.
Transportation decision must be made. Ron Grant of Midwest Transit Equipment gave a presentation to the board on the company’s bus lease or bus lease-purchase programs.
The board must decide in March whether to lease or buy school buses. The district is at the end of its current bus lease.
An official with Midwest Bus Sales gave a presentation to the board in January.
Grimsley said last month the district has several options that include lease, lease-purchase, buy the buses outright or put together a combination of two of the three.
Board members reviewed a proposed school calendar for the next year in which classes will start Thursday, Aug. 22, and end May 30. Grimsley said Aug. 22 would be a full day, which is a change due to a new state statute on the beginning and ending days. A teacher institute day will be held Aug. 21.