School board discusses plans for success in the new year

Superintendent Tom Baumgarten talks about the districts plans to motivate students at the board meeting on Tuesday night.

JOSHUA TREE — The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education met Tuesday to look at the success of students through reports on standardized testing, AP classes, college readiness and more.

Amy Woods, the district’s new assistant superintendent of instructional services, presented the results of last year’s standardized testing, Smarter Balanced Assessments in English language arts and math.

“Overall the MUSD percentage of students who met or exceeded the standards went up in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11,” she said.

Twentynine Palms High School saw an increase of 16 percent in students who met or exceeded the standards in English language arts and a 6 percent increase in students who met or exceeded the standards in math from the 2017-18 school year to the 2018-19 school year.

Over at Yucca Valley High School, there was a 15 percent increase in students who met or exceeded the standards in ELA.

“Both of those big schools did small-group targeting,” Woods said. “That’s a significant increase.”

Overall Woods said the district’s academic success is improving, with more students being deemed college or career ready at Yucca Valley High School every year. Students at Twentynine Palms High School’s career or college readiness decreased with the class of 2018 but Woods said they expect that to improve once the numbers come in for 2019.

With the start of the new school year, Woods said these reports will help staff target areas needing improvement and areas that are being successful.

With the start of the new school year, the district is counting the number of students enrolled and the numbers who actually showed up. The numbers are tracked for the first 10 days of school and will help determine final placements of teachers and resources.

Currently, the district is 475 students under projection but staff said because of the upcoming holiday weekend, they expect more students to attend next week.

There are currently 16 grade combination classes throughout the district and board member Karalee Hargrove said she believed this was far too many.

“Let’s not move backwards,” she said, noting that the average second-grade class size with the current numbers would be increased from 16 to 24 students.

Staff members told Hargrove they expect that number to change after the final count is complete and teachers can be moved around.

Hargrove closed out her comments by urging those in the audience to get parents involved in MUSD board meetings. She said she did not see a single parent in the room and she urged parents and students in the district to attend meetings and get involved.

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