The New Bloomfield Board of Education on Thursday night approved a plan to pay for the first American College Test (ACT) examination taken by a New Bloomfield high school student if he or she attends two free weekend test preparatory sessions two weeks before taking the test.
A student could continue to take the test several times but the district would pay for the test only one time.
Jeremy Davidson, New Bloomfield High School principal, said the school wants to provide the preparatory sessions to help students better understand the ACT test procedures and to encourage student achievement.
ACT scores are used partly to determine admission to various colleges and universities. ACT scores also are one standard used by the state to accredit schools.
New Bloomfield Superintendent David Tramel told the board the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education last year accredited the district with distinction in its annual performance report.
Tramel said this year the state has revised its standards for evaluating schools and has issued new evaluations of districts.
Tramel said the district this year did fare as well as last year under the previous standards.
But he noted the entire New Bloomfield School District will continue to be accredited with distinction until 2015 because the state wants three years of accumulated data before evaluating schools under the new standards.
Last year the state had 14 standards and New Bloomfield met all 14.
Under the new standards, New Bloomfield scored 105 points out of 140 possible points.
"According to our state supervisor, this puts New Bloomfield on the upper end of the scores of the 56 schools he supervises in the Mid-Missouri area. Of those 56 Central Missouri schools, only 22 had a score above 90," Tramel said.
Tramel said high school and elementary school principals have started various programs to identify ways to improve test scores and student achievement.
Tramel said a crackdown on disruptive students last year affected the district's attendance rate and thereby lowered this year's state evaluation scores.
But Tramel said the effort is showing better results this year.
"All things considered, we fared pretty well for the first year under the state's revised evaluations," Tramel said.
The state agency is still working out procedures it uses for school evaluations and still has not developed all of the standards.
"In some ways," Tramel said, "it's like trying to hit a moving target."
Davidson said administrators are working closely with teachers to find ways to improve student achievement.
He said teachers are contacting other schools to learn how they have enhanced student achievement and received better MAP test scores.
Davidson said he has met with all teachers and has established goals for all of them to reach.
Elementary Principal Julie Gerloff said MAP test results show the need for improvement in some areas but the results also reveal outstanding advancement.
MAP test results for communication arts for this year's fourth-graders showed they improved from 34 percent advanced or proficient last year to 46.9 percent advanced or proficient this year.
"The fourth grade also has no students who rated below basic in the MAP test results for math," Gerloff said. "This also includes special education students."