LEWISBURG — Tri-County North School District board members and administrators held their second monthly meeting of 2021 on Monday, Feb. 22.
Elementary students were tested in math and reading in the fall to see how the extended period of remote learning due to the COVID-19 shutdown, and the interceding summer, had impacted their academic skills, according to elementary school principal Joe Finkbine.
“We found out we had a significant number of students who scored where they needed interventions,” Finkbine said.
Students were then sorted into three tiers, according to Finkbine, with students requiring the most additional help being placed in Tier III.
“And then our paraprofessional aids, our para-teachers, and our teachers jumped in,” Finkbine said. “We re-tested in January and got wonderful results.”
The number of students requiring Tier III assistance in math had been reduced by 42 percent, according to Finkbine, while the number in Tier II had been lowered by 58 percent. Those needing Tier III help in reading saw a 31 percent reduction, while Tier II students were cut by 55 percent.
“That’s very good data for us to look at and say what sort of interventions are we doing with our students, and is it making a difference?” Finkbine said. “It shows that we’re doing a really good job of identifying students, putting interventions in place, and then the assessments show that, ‘Hey, what we’re doing is working.’”
High School Principal’s Report and National Merit Scholar
High School principal Kristen Mills reported that of six seniors who were considered “off track” to graduation after fall testing, four are now back on track.
“We’re working with the other two to see if there are any alternate pathways to a diploma,” Mills said.
Mills felt that morale among seniors was improving.
“I feel like they’re seeing that graduation is in sight, and they’re getting excited again,” Mills said.
Mills praised the elementary school staff for their interventions on behalf of students feared to be falling behind.
“It’s nice to hear about all the work Mr. Finkbine is doing, because we will see the effects of that in the years to come,” Mills said.
Mills also recognized TCN senior Kaimee Knisley, who was recently named a finalist in the 2021 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards. Approximately half of all finalists will receive scholarships, according to the organization’s website, with final determinations being made in April.
“This is my fifth year at North, and I know we haven’t had [a National Merit finalist] in the past five years, so it’s a great accomplishment either way,” Mills told The Register-Herald. “She’s an outstanding young lady.”
Superintendent Bill Derringer reported that Wi-Fi hotspots paid for by a recent internet connectivity grant had recently been distributed to a number of TCN students.
“When the weather forecast got bad they came in and got theirs,” Derringer said. “I don’t know of anyone in our district now that doesn’t have internet access at their home.”
The hotspots are easy to use, according to Derringer, needing only to be plugged in. Students can then log on to a Verizon website to get internet access for their ChromeBooks and other devices.
Derringer reported that a recent “virtual day” held to avoid having to make up days during Spring Break, or at the end of the school year, due to bad weather had seen over 90 percent attendance, and that a virtual teacher in-service day had gone equally smoothly. A recent $15,150 grant from local employer Silfex will allow the district to purchase even more technology for students and staff, according to Derringer.
After last week’s two-day vaccination for Preble County teachers and school staff, Derringer said North’s faculty will receive the required second dose on Friday, March 26, immediately before the start of Spring Break.
Tri-County North Board of Education meetings take place the third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are streamed live on the school district’s YouTube page.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish