During a special session Saturday, board members met at Wabash Campground Heritage Lodge, 304 E. County Road 650 S., Clay City, to discuss new ways of reaching both realistic and idealistic goals for the 2012-15 school years.
"Every single year we are going to look at, 'did they do better?'" CCS Superintendent Kimberly Tucker said. "We need to put the wheels to the road on this and set specific, smart, measurable and reasonable goals that include how much growth we expect to see."
Board officials discussed several goals they'd like to see achieved and focused on three main goals.
The first goal states, "All CCS students and schools will demonstrate academic growth using" a set of several benchmarks for the IREAD, NWEA, ISTEP+ and other standardized tests.
Some of the measurable objectives included in this goal are to increase the number of proficient student in language arts to 80 percent or above on the ISTEP+ assessment.
"Right now, we're at about 76 percent," Tucker said. "If we increased 4 percent we'd be well above the state average."
In the past, the high schools have voluntarily and intentionally not required remedial students to participate in tests they were not prepared for, but state mandates are now requiring the schools to have 100 percent participation.
Tucker said she's concerned about how it will affect the school's grade evaluation from the state.
"Previously, we pulled kids out if we didn't feel they were ready for the test, and we thought they could benefit from an extra year of pre-algebra or another course," Tucker said. "We thought, why suffer a kid to fail a test when we know he's going to fail, when we can take that year to get him caught up."
Tucker also said, at the present time, the corporation growth measures at 44-47 percent from year-to-year, and the new goal is to see a steady 65 percent where "the majority of the kids are where they need to be."
The second goal states, "All students will make a successful transition to next level of education."
Tucker told those in attendance the students most vulnerable to falling behind and not exhibiting growth are those transitioning from kindergarten to first-grade, second- to third-grade (in regard to have sufficient reading skills and being able to pass the IREAD), fifth-graders leaving elementary for middle school or sixth-graders at Clay City transitioning to the junior/senior high school, eighth-graders moving to high school and graduating seniors (in regard to their preparedness for a successful future.)
"We've got a lot of really bright kids who are falling through the cracks or coasting through their courses," Tucker said. "They won't be able to coast through high school anymore. We are going to develop local assessments, benchmarks and surveys to measure (and promote) growth."
One of the main objectives discussed for the second goal was, "freshmen course failures will be reduced by 50 percent each year benchmarked from the 2011-12 data.
Tucker said the goal is "incredibly ambitious" but necessary.
The third goal on the agenda states, "CCS will increase communication and partnerships with various community groups to facilitate increased student learning."
The corporation plans to accomplish the goal by sending out newsletters, conducting monthly meetings, webinars and hosting luncheons, as well as having virtual school tours, enhancing its website and communicating with the public through social networking.
Former East Side Elementary Principal Denzil Adams made an appearance at the meeting to convey his thoughts about why students were not yet exhibiting maximum growth and how that could be changed.
He said some of the academic stagnation is a product of students' non-supportive home environments: For example, when a student is from a fatherless or abusive home, does not have a home or is a teen parent.
"When (adults) think of school, they think of their days in school, but things are much different now," Adams said.