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Esky students show boost in test scores

Deborah Prescott | Daily Press Students at the Escanaba Upper Elementary School report to their classroom during the first day of school last week. The Escanaba School Board was given an update Monday night on the favorable test scores of Escanaba students during the last school year.

ESCANABA — Escanaba Superintendent Coby Fletcher gave the Escanaba School Board a presentation showing the latest student test results from the past school year Monday night.

The test data showed improvement in third grade level reading and SAT scores.

“We are just starting to get our data from various testing,” said Fletcher.

Third grade reading levels have gone up the last two years, according to Michigan testing standards. Fletcher attributes the higher testing scores to a lot of hard work going into the reading levels, kindergarten, first, and second grades.

The SAT scores last year show Escanaba testing higher than the state and ISD.

“Everybody saw a dip in SAT scores this year … our trend as SAT scores, as a district … has been really very good,” said Fletcher.

According to Fletcher, college and state professionals do not know why the state’s SAT scores as a whole dipped.

“They couldn’t explain the dip,” said Fletcher. “It’s statistically a significant dip, which to me says there was something different about the test this last year.”

According to the data Fletcher has received so far, Escanaba students are well above others testing in math — 23 to 73 points higher than any other district in the ISD and highest in college readiness scores.

Fletcher included value added measure scores that look at whether children are growing at a rate expected from year to year. According to Fletcher, looking at growth is different than looking at proficiency during a moment in time.

“We show much better than expected academic growth, especially sixth through 11, especially in math, which is outside the norm of my experiences working in the secondary level,” said Fletcher.

Escanaba has programs to aid students academically and in the community through the Leader in Me and the Community Eligibility Act, for example.

“We continue to run, what I consider to be the strongest and largest Early Middle College advanced placement, duel enrollment programs in the ISD,” said Fletcher. “We’ve put together, what I think, is a very powerful package for kids and their family.”

In other business:

– Director of Business Services Kevin Pascoe informed the board of Escanaba’s full-time equivalent (FTE) student count for the first week of school. The unofficial count was 2,322.69, on Sept. 6. The FTE is a count of enrolled students who currently receive educational instruction from teachers at the school. It also counts the portion of a day a student attends school in Escanaba. For example, students from Holy Name attending Escanaba for music are only counted the fraction of the school day they are attending Escanaba. That portion is calculated in the Escanaba FTE.

The count is better than predicted by the Escanaba School Board and will be looked at again the beginning of October during the official student count. The count is certified in November.

Escanaba’s FTE is above budget by 36 students.

“So we’re looking good,” said Fletcher. “We have about 36 more students than we anticipated having.”

– Escanaba Director of Food Service Nancy LaFave provided the board with breakfast items in a lunch bag with a pencil and prize before she gave an update on the breakfast and lunch program.

Eighty-eight percent of kindergarten through sixth grade students are eating breakfast, and 75 percent are eating lunch at school. LaFave would like to find out why the percentage goes down from breakfast to lunch.

Only 30 percent of junior high students are eating the free breakfast, and 70 percent lunch. LaFave wants to get both percentages up by starting out with providing hot breakfast a couple days in the week. Not wanting to wait in the lunch line is the biggest compliant she has heard by students.

LaFave watched students during lunch Monday and witnessed ninth and 10 graders had their food and were sitting in 10 minutes. Eleventh and 12th graders took 11 minutes.

Through the year LaFave has plans of bringing companies in to provide samples of their food for all grades to taste test the products.

– The board considered a timeline to decide to consolidate or not. In October Fletcher will go to the board with one of three things, do we or do we not consolidate based on enrollment numbers, if Fletcher goes to the board with the idea of consolidating he would give his recommendation for what building to consolidate and how would it work.

“If we did consolidate, what exactly would it look like,” said Fletcher.

In November the board would then start discussions to what would be the best fit and the community would be involved.

Final discussions and decisions would be completed in December during the regular meeting.

The idea of consolidating came from absent revenue, two sinking fund proposals turned down, and upcoming repairs that will be needed.

“We’re going to have to find that revenue stream on our own,” said Fletcher. “We estimated we would save $200,000 a year by consolidating a building. That would be year to year savings and that would help us fund some of the things we know we are going to have to fund in the near future in our buildings.”

Trustee Jim Beauchamp was concerned with the consolidation of a school in the district and would rather see a push to attract more students.

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