By Rosemary K. Otzman
An amendment of the charter contract with National Heritage Academy (NHA) that would give Keystone Academy some flexibility in testing was unanimously approved by the Keystone board of directors at its regular meeting July 10.
Absent was board member Bill Johnson.
Board President Vesta Losen said she hates to take away teaching time for testing – and there is so much testing.
NHA is giving the school flexibility in the testing, said Keystone Principal Keturah Godfrey.
Chris Caulk of NHA explained that the ACT Explore test is going away in Michigan and everyone is trying to figure out what the state is going to be doing about required tests.
Principal Godfrey said in the spring of 2015 there will be a MEAP test aligned with Common Core.
She said the state is moving toward electronic testing, but paper and pencil will be available.
President Losen and Vice President Amy Gusfa recounted stories of electronic freezing and hacking of electronic tests.
Caulk said the new agreement allows Keystone to opt out of certain tests.
Godfrey said it takes the school three weeks to take the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) tests and the new agreement with NHA gives Keystone greater flexibility.
She said teachers do use the results of the NWEA testing and the MEAP test is high-stakes.
She said Keystone will make sure it is assessing its students because they do need baseline data.
Also during the 45-minute meeting, the board:
• Watched board members Amy Gusfa and Vesta Losen get sworn in for additional three-year terms to expire in June of 2017;
• Approved amending a slight detail for the 2014-15 school calendar. The school year starts for students on Sept. 2 and now ends with a half day on June 12;
• Received and discussed the auditor planning communication from Plante Moran. Board Treasurer Carol Manley noted that the board doesn’t have control over management because of the structure of the school contract;
• Tabled a discussion on the proposed 2014-15 Board Fund Budget;
• Heard a report from Principal Godfrey that included announcement of a growing population – now 32 — of Romanian students. Consultants will be coming in to help the school teach them;
• Heard President Losen mention that two years ago the NWEA scores were better than now. Principal Godfrey said that was before Common Core. She said Keystone nearly is back to where it was two years ago with its test results, but now they are using the tougher tests;
• Heard Godfrey report that attendance was 85% for the extra week at the end of the school year necessary because of snow days;
• Heard Godfrey report at the National Junior Honor Society induction they had, briefly, 92 NJHS members. There were 51 graduating from eighth grade and 41 new members;
• Heard Godfrey announce that there will be a new part-time at-risk social worker and a new part-time at-risk math specialist. Also a 6th grade teacher left to work in an Ypsilanti-area NHA school because she wanted to teach more at-risk students. Ellen Poole was hired to teach seventh-grade math. Godfrey said once everything is settled down and they are fully staffed, with an end of July goal, the staff changes will be communicated to the parents; and
• Heard Godfrey describe what is being done to work on the Focus School designation. She said the state won’t let the school know how it’s doing until August.
By Rosemary K. Otzman