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La Vernia waives testing requirements

La Vernia waives testing requirements
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH Rhonda Richardson urges La Vernia Independent School board members Feb. 29 to consider character education for students throughout the district.

LA VERNIA Students in the fifth and eighth grades here will not be promoted or retained based on the results of this year’s state-mandated standardized tests, following action by the La Vernia Independent School District’s (ISD) board of trustees during its Feb. 29 meeting. The board also waived the requirement for end-of-course tests to count as 15 percent of a high school student’s final grade. The measures apply to the 2011-12 academic year.

The end-of-course tests are part of the state’s new standardized assessment procedure. This includes the STAAR, which replaces the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) this school year.

Trustees Richard Schier, John Bilicek, James Barnett, Eric Friedrichs, and David Watson, along with board President Janice Gimbel, approved the measures unanimously. Current policy states that students who do not pass the state tests will be retained at their current grade level for the next academic year. Suspending EIE (Local) policy means that retention and promotion for students in the fifth and eighth grades will not depend on their STAAR results this year. Curriculum director Dr. Diane Fisher advised the board that STAAR results will not be available until this fall; therefore, the district cannot depend on these for retention or promotion decisions. Instead, a student’s grades, teacher assessment, and other factors will be taken into account for this year, Fisher told the board.

As part of the state’s new standardized evaluations, high school students must take and pass end-of-course assessments. According to the new guidelines, the results of these exams will count as 15 percent of a student’s final grade in the relevant courses for the academic year. La Vernia ISD has approved accepting the education commissioner’s offer of a waiver for the 15 percent rule for the 2011-12 year only.

Along with these measures, the board also approved a formal policy for determining class ranking for high school students. To be eligible for the top two positions valedictorian and salutatorian, students must attend La Vernia High School for two years. The grade-point average will determine ranking. Advanced placement classes will count for 8 extra points toward GPA. In the event of a tie, said high school Principal Cheryl Barron, the school will calculate GPAs out to five decimal places. If a tie still exists, the number of weighted (advanced placement) courses will be taken into account, then the number of core classes, foreign languages, college entry test scores, and more. The policy was approved unanimously.

In other matters, the board:

¢Approved the calendar for academic year 2012-13

¢Was presented information on an Internet service upgrade by Technology Director Allen Bordelon. The district will upgrade from its current 9mbps circuit, which averages 80 percent utilization and occasionally up to 150 percent, to a 40mbps enhanced Internet circuit. This will be activated in April, Bordelon said, and will cost the district approxiimately $300 after discounts and other considerations

¢Took no action regarding the proposed non-renewal of the employment contract of a junior high school teacher.

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