Board of Education discusses state assessment plans, budget expenditures

By EMILY BECKETT / Staff Writer

The Shelby County Board of Education meeting May 19 focused on future plans for Alabama’s assessment programs.

Cindy Wiley, guidance and testing supervisor for the county, presented the changes the state will implement in the next few years for middle and high school students.

“We are in a process of change with the assessments,” Wiley said. “We are such a big system that it takes everybody in our schools to pull this off.”

According to Wiley, next year the SAT and OLSAT will be taken away and replaced with the Alabama Reading and Math Test +.

“Our schools were able to take part in the pilot (of ARMT+) this year, which we were excited about,” Wiley said.

Wiley said many people are wondering what will happen to the Alabama High School Graduation Exam.

“The Alabama High School Graduation Exam is still the biggest enigma of when it’s finally going to be done,” Wiley said. “I think the holdup is that the end-of-course tests have not been developed yet.”

The end-of-course tests will eventually take the place of the graduation exams.

All students will eventually be required to take the ACT one time, and the state will pay for it.

The 9th graders for the 2011-2012 school year will be the last students to take the graduation exams, but they will also be required to take the ACT.

Vice President Steve Martin voiced his concern regarding the dates of state assessments and AP exams sometimes overlapping with state athletic tournaments.

“I would like to see some coordination,” Martin said. “I would like some study to be done to find out which schools do not pay for [makeup tests], which schools do pay for it … and if there is any detrimental effect on students.”

Wiley noted that although the state department creates the schedules each year for state assessments, Alabama has no control over the schedules for AP exams, which are national exams.

Students choose whether to take AP courses and pay the fees for them, but they may also face additional fees if they must take makeup tests because of athletic tournaments.

“The state testing department will work with the state athletic department and with us,” Wiley said. “AP [test dates] are nationally recognized dates.”

Even so, some schools pay their students’ makeup test fees, Wiley said.

In other business, the Board approved the April report for payroll and monthly expenditures, out-of-state field trips, applicants for summer school in 2011, an increase of CNP meal prices and bids for CNP equipment.

According to a press release from Shelby County Schools, student and adult meal prices will increase for the 2011-2012 school year to meet federal regulations.

Child Nutrition Program Coordinator Maureen Alexander said the USDA now requires paid meals to exceed or be equivalent to the federal reimbursement rate of $2.46.

Shelby County is creating a plan to allow the district to gradually fulfill the federal requirement over the next three years.

Elementary students will pay 25 cents more for breakfast, meaning the price for full-pay lunch students will be $1.25 instead of $1.00.

Lunch prices will increase for elementary, middle and high school students.

For elementary students, lunch will be $2.00 instead of $1.75; for middle and high school students $2.25 instead of $2.00; and for employees $2.75 instead of $2.50.