The Ottumwa Courier


January 22, 2014

Test scores up at Van Buren schools

KEOSAUQUA — Scores on the Iowa Assessment tests soared this year for most of the classes taking them at Van Buren Community School District.

“We are very pleased,” said Mary Dawn Schuck, curriculum coordinator. “We’re kind of speechless.” The number of students proficient in reading jumped as high as 34 percent in one class, she stated.

“Normally, we can expect growth from one year to the next around 10 percent,” she said. “We had kids with 50-point growth. We’re thrilled.”

The school has been emphasizing better reading proficiency in their curriculum the past couple of years. Schuck said it is starting to pay dividends in improved achievement, citing the fifth grade.

“Of the 43 students who took the test, there are more (18) students who are regarded as advanced proficient than proficient (16). That’s wonderful.”

Scores in math and science proficiency also showed increases. “The kids really stepped up,” said secondary principal Chuck Banks. “We’re very happy with the effort of staff, parents and students.”

Schuck said the results had just been released this week and she hadn’t had time to “dig into the individual data too much and will do that in the coming days.”

In other action and discussion:

• Superintendent Dr. Pam Ewell updated the board on the new school calendar, which could be for 180 days or 1,080 hours. She will bring a proposal to the March meeting.

• Ewell suggested the board look at leasing buses instead of purchasing them.

Leasing involves a three-year term and then a balloon payment at the end and selling it back.

“It keeps our fleet newer and there are less repairs,” Ewell said. “Money for the lease comes out of the PPEL and money from the sale goes into the general fund. I haven’t analyzed every piece, but I think it’s worth looking at.” She said the company which leases the buses would pay Van Buren personnel to do maintenance.

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