by Janet Schultz
Several parents opened the most recent Lewiston-Porter Board of Education meeting by inquiring as to the status of their children who were taking advanced mathematics classes and now are retaking what they took last year.
Lew-Port, like the rest of New York, does not have a gifted and talented program. Some schools have been accelerating students based on teacher recommendations or parent requests.
Superintendent of Schools Christopher Roser said he thought the district had discontinued the practice three years ago.
Now due to Common Core Standards and Testing, the issue has come to light because of assessment and testing of children and faculty.
"We don't have a way to assess and determine if a person is gifted or talented or what person should have access to an enrichment program," Roser said. "And where does it lead us in the end is the question we have to answer."
"What happens to the accelerated student once they hit high school?" he asked.
"The other problem is that you have to have a teacher of record, according to the Common Core Standards," said Roser. "We don't know how to do that when we accelerate a student."
The students in question are in the elementary and middle school grades. Students in high school have the option of taking advanced classes in mathematics, as well as several other subjects.
One reason for this option is that at the higher grades students have a different teacher for each class and each teacher is evaluated based on the testing. At the lower grades, students have a single teacher, with the exception of physical education, music, and art, and that teacher is assessed based on the tests given students in her/his class.
Advanced Placement students have the upper level teacher for the upper level class, and the question is, who is the teacher of record since there can be only one.
"We must see how we can do this without being jeopardized later," explained Roser. "This is something new over the past two years and now because everything is tied to teachers, assessment and the student."
Roser went on to explain that only two schools in the area have a gifted and talented program and that Starpoint Central, one of the most highest achieving schools in the area, doesn't accelerate at all. The two schools that do this have the student skip an entire grade.
The question remaining, is what to do with those students who have been advanced and now have been left at their grade level and retaking a math class they have already taken.
"To make a child repeat a class they already mastered is, to me, unacceptable," said board member Jodee Riordan.
"We have kids who have been excelled with no criteria to place them there and not sure what criteria we use to keep them there," said BOE President Michael Gentile.
"The other situation is that there is no criteria to use to refuse someone from accelerating if it is requested."
Roser told the board he would set up a committee consisting of board members (Gentile and Anna Wright volunteered), parents, teachers and administrators to work on a solution.
With no solution found at the meeting, Roser asked that the children be left where they are, at least for the next two weeks. They are receiving enrichment in those classes from their current teacher.
Roser also expressed strongly that all of this had to meet the requirements of the New York State Department of Education and the Common Core requirements.
In other news,
•Roser recognized members of the Board of Education by presenting them with a token of appreciation for their work in observance of Board of Education Month.
"We don't take enough time to thank you," said Roser. "You are 24/7 and always out and doing the job.
"We have been blessed with a wonderful board for the past five to six years, and we thank you for all you do."
•The board was to have held an audit committee meeting prior to Tuesday's session and approve the audit at the regular portion of the meeting. They tabled that action and reported that the audit meeting will be held prior to the Nov. 19 regular board meeting.
•The proposal to approve the Washington, D.C., field trip for seventh- and eighth-graders in 2015 was approved following a detailed presentation on what the trip entails by teacher and chaperone Mike Bollinger. The three-day trip is an intense tour of Washington, which includes a performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, visits to all historical sites and monuments, and receiving hands-on experiences at various national museums. Several students are selected to take part in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. Selection is based on a written essay.
•The donation of $432 worth of books from Usborne Books and Moore donated to the middle school Builders' Club for the middle school library was accepted.
•The board also approved an agreement with the University of Buffalo Orthopedics to provide athletic training services to Lewiston-Porter student athletes. In doing so, the contract with Mount St. Mary's Hospital will be ended.
"We really enjoyed our relationship with Mount St. Mary's and it is unfortunate that the service is being dropped by the hospital," said Roser. "We had a great relationship with St. Mary's for a number of years."
•The board accepted the resignation of Cynthia Sanchez as high school ski club adviser and appointed Brett Coppins to that position. They also accepted the resignation of junior varsity basketball coach Scott Mueller.
•Intermediate Education Principal Andrew Auer announced that the IEP is holding its annual coat drive and that there is a need for men's jackets. Donations should be of slightly used coats, hats and mittens. Donations can be dropped off at the IEP office.
•Middle School Principal Dean Ramirez announced that students raised more than $3,000 from their magazine sale and that the proceeds will go to the activities of the student council.
Ramirez also announced that the work on the front entrance of the middle school has been completed through the efforts of teachers Amy Golden and Tina Oddy and their students. Also donating materials, design time and construction time was A1 Landscaping.
•High School Principal Paul Casseri announced the high school choral concert is Nov. 5 and the high school instrumental concert is Nov. 6.
•The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m. preceded by an audit committee meeting at 5:30 p.m.