School district sets goals for 2007-08 school year

Millstone schools met objectives of QAAR report in 2006-07


MILLSTONE – More participation in science class and a reduction in disciplinary actions are among the goals of the school district this year.

Laura Vetere, the director of curriculum and instruction for the school district, presented the state-mandated Quality Assurance Annual Report (QAAR) at the Nov. 12 Board of Education meeting. The report reflects on the goals the school district set the previous year and the objectives it hopes to achieve this school year.

Vetere said this is the last year for the QAAR report, since next year a more detailed and comprehensive report will replace it.

QAAR requires each school to have two performance-based objectives. For the 2006- 07 school year, both the elementary and middle school met those objectives, according to Vetere.

Last year, the fourth- and seventhgrade students demonstrated proficiency in open-ended written responses to math questions, and new staff members in both the elementary and middle schools received 15 hours of staff development training in instructional methods. The staff used the techniques in presenting lessons, according to Vetere.

Every seven years, the QAAR calls for the district to complete a demographic survey. Millstone did a survey in 2003, and although another is not due until 2010, the school district plans to do another one this year, Vetere said.

The school district must also do a community survey every seven years. The district did a survey in 2001 and plans to do another one this school year, according to Vetere.

Although the school district is not due to create a list of resources and links to social service agencies until 2011, the administration keeps the list current, according to Vetere.

As for other annual reports the QAAR requires, Vetere said the Board of Education approved the necessary report on school nurses on April 23 and developed a nursing services plan with the school physician.

The Board of Education also approved the annual Violence and Vandalism Report on Oct. 22. Vetere said the report also looks at substance abuse in the schools and notes that prevention is addressed throughout the school year and is highlighted with activities during Red Ribbon Week each October.

The New Jersey State Police has to review the district’s Emergency and Crisis Management Plan each year. Vetere said the administration is currently working with the state police on revising the plan.

This year, the QAAR goal for the middle school is to have a 50 percent increase in active student participation during science lessons. While the district will continue to focus on all discipline areas, this year’s target is science, she said.

The district is also aiming for a 10 percent reduction in disciplinary referrals as a result of its newly implemented Respect, Environment, Attitude, Courtesy, and Honesty (REACH) program. According to its mission statement, REACH is a partnership dedicated to empowering children as they become responsible, mature young adults and contributing members of the community.

In the elementary school, fifth-grade students will have to demonstrate growth in responding to open-ended math questions and timed writing prompts from September to June. Second-grade students will have to demonstrate proficiency in writing in the same time period. The students’ fall writing skills will be compared to their June efforts, according to Vetere.

Another goal is to have a 50 percent increase in student participation during lan- guage arts literacy and math lessons, according to Vetere.

Professional development goals will include staff having to take a writers’ workshop, developing advanced unit training in the math mobile lab, developing language arts and math instructional strategies, coordinating differentiated instruction for the elementary and middle schools, and holding anti-bullying workshops. The goals for the district will also include creating collaborative communities and action research groups, which Vetere said are the focus of the district’s professional development committee.

Last year was a very busy year for staff because of the move to the new middle school and the rearrangement of the primary and elementary schools, Vetere said. She said she hopes there will be more staff interest in the professional development opportunities this year.

QAAR-mandated programs include English as a Second Language, for which the board approved a three-year plan in 2005 and must approve a plan again next year.

The board approved the mandated three-year technology plan in July.

Vetere said that although the district currently does not offer early childhood education, it will offer it in September 2008.