Letters to the Editor

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Hall: job is privilege, responsibility

There’s no place like home, or at least no place like the Madison-Plains School community.

I’ve lived in Madison County since 1961 and graduated from The Plains School in Mount Sterling in 1964. I was drafted shortly after high school into the Army where I served for two years, 13 months in the Viet Nam campaign.

I graduated from college in 1971 and started my career in education. I taught four years in the Southwestern City School District before becoming principal at Fair-field Elementary and assuming other district duties. After several years in this ca-pacity, I assumed the position of assistant superintendent and later superintendent of Madison-Plains Schools. I had a wonder-ful network of staff and immensely enjoyed my years and district accomplishments.

In 2000, I decided to retire after 30 years in education to devote more time to my family (wife Jayne, daughters Jennifer and Lindsey, both graduates of Madison-Plains, and today my grandchildren, Emma and the newest, Drew, born on Jan. 28), my farm and business established in 1981.

Who would have known I would be back in 2008 doing the job, again, as superintendent? I’m pleasantly surprised and glad to be back in this capacity.

The circumstance that brought this all about was tragic, but when asked by the board of education to fill in for a period of time, I was glad to assist Janice Streit. We had worked together for the betterment of Madison-Plains for several years.

I assumed the role of assistant superintendent in September 2007. Tragically, Janice never recovered. When I was offered the position of superintendent, I was flattered and surprised. After much soul searching, I accepted. I don’t think I let myself realize how much I missed the challenge of the position and being a part of this school system. As always, in any progressive system, there are many capable people to work with and a host of projects await. I am confident that when we pull as a team, each student will benefit in years to come.

I hope every community member, staff, parent and grandparent across this 248 square-mile district will know I am approachable to ideas, comments, criticism and any feedback that will allow for better communication and community input in this school system. I don’t, and never have I pretended to, have all the answers. My door is always open and the phone is always available. I see my role not just as a privilege, but as a responsibility.

I wish to close by thanking our board of education for their confidence and look forward to the future here at Madison-Plains.

Boone Hall, superintendent
Madison-Plains Local Schools

Value-added data helpful to schools

This year, the London City Schools adopted the concept of “value-added” for measuring students’ academic success.

What is the value-added concept? Simply put: When working with something, leave it better than when you found it by adding value. Make the “investment” grow.

While we wholeheartedly endorse that parents are the primary teachers of our young people, we also know the role of ed-ucators is to take children from where we find them and add value. We add value by teaching students knowledge, skills and appropriate behavior.

The London City Schools has enrolled in Project SOAR to enhance our ability to measure and analyze student progress. SOAR stands for Schools’ Online Achieve-ment Reports. This is a Battelle For Kids initiative in which Dr. William Sanders of the SAS Institute Inc. applies statistical value-added methodology to student per-formance data provided by participating school districts.

Value-added analysis applies a statistical formula to individual student achievement data to determine academic growth or “value” for a student or group of students over a specific period of time. Currently, over 100 districts in Ohio participate in this initiative. The core of this project is a secure Web site educators can use to view district, building, grade, and student level performance data. Project SOAR value-added analysis of student performance data will assist districts in their efforts to focus instruction to improve performance and raise achievement levels.

One may wonder why this is preferred over the Ohio Department of Education’s former accountability system. Until just this year, we only measured students and grade levels of students against state designated benchmarks. All students are expected to meet the benchmarks at the same time. Since we know that students enter our schools at different levels of readiness, the added “value” of this system is that we can accurately measure their growth over time. The value-added system measures the progress of each student each year, in grades 2 through 10.

We prefer to be—and believe we should be—accountable for the progress that each child makes and that each group of students makes. What is a reasonable expectation of progress for each child? We believe that it is reasonable to expect at least one year’s growth within one academic year. 

At this point, Battelle For Kids has up to two years of our students’ data on its Web site. Again, please note that this is a very secure system. After this school year, we will have up to three years of data, depending on the test and the grade level. The experts tell us that schools need at least three years of test information to begin to make sound conclusions about our strengths and challenges as a district, school and grade. Project SOAR will be very helpful as a learning tool for our faculty as we continue to work to improve each year, with the commitment of success for every child.

D. Steven Allen, superintendent
London City Schools

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