Wolf Creek board president discusses helping student

WATERFORD – Wolf Creek Local Board of Education President Hugh Arnold recently got to experience up close one of the more frustrating aspects of state testing for students and educators.

During Monday’s board meeting in the Waterford High School library, Arnold told fellow board members about the time he spent assisting a student with the reading portion of the third-grade Ohio Achievement Assessment. But Arnold, who has volunteered to help children with reading difficulties on other parts of state tests before, said that since it was a reading test, he was very limited in the assistance he could provide.

On a science test, Arnold can read a passage to the student or help them read it. But because reading was what was being tested, all he could do was read questions about a lengthy passage of text as the young student struggled to read the passage itself.

“It was frustrating to watch a kid sit there and cry because he couldn’t read it,” said Arnold, who spent three hours with the student. “He was sitting there working, trying to do it.”

Waterford Elementary Principal Doug Baldwin said Arnold could not even help the child sound out a word in the passage.

“If a kid comes across a word and he helps, you have to discredit the test,” the principal said.

Baldwin said some students on individual education plans are entitled to additional assistance like Arnold and other volunteers and school employees provide because they have been identified as having difficulties with reading. They get support and intervention to help them learn throughout the year, but that’s limited on the reading portion of the state assessment.

“What’s frustrating for some kids is in a different setting, they may be more successful,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin said it can be upsetting to the students, who understand the importance placed on the state testing that determines schools’ performance on state report cards. The process doesn’t seem productive to him, since the students have already been identified as needing intervention and extra help with reading.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” he said.

In other business:

Superintendent Bob Caldwell said the district had been approved for $4,000 in state funding to equip Waterford Elementary and High School with radio units that connect with the Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) to keep them in direct contact with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in the event of an emergency.

Caldwell said the General Assembly recently approved funding to provide school districts with $2,000 per building with students and a principal to link to the system.

Contacted after the meeting, Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said the system would also allow the school buildings to communicate with each other or other districts as well as deputies.

“I support it 100 percent,” he said, noting other local districts have expressed an interest in the program.

The board scheduled a special meeting for 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, in Caldwell’s office at the high school, at which Treasurer Rachel Miller will present the district’s five-year forecast.