By Nancy Gutierrez
At the Exeter Union High School District Board meeting last Wednesday the board discussed revising policy concerning extracurricular and co-curricular trips that occur near Standardized Testing And Reporting (STAR) assessments.
"We need to discuss what needs to be done to hold students accountable to the level of tests they are taking," EUHSD Superintendent Renee Whitson said. "STAR tests are not like the CAHSEE or SAT, all of these are high stakes tests."
The policy committee suggested adding a requirement to Board Policy 6145a concerning eligibility for extracurricular and co-curricular activities. The policy states that in order to participate in extra/co-curricular activities, students in grades 7 through 12 must demonstrate satisfactory educational progress in meeting the requirements for graduation. An amendment to that requirement would add the sentence, "and demonstrate proficiency on grade level standards for language arts (English) and mathematics as measured by state standards assessments or demonstrate satisfactory progress on benchmark assessments."
Students who are passing and even excelling in their courses would also have to show proficiency on state assessments in order to participate in extracurricular activities, with the added policy.
A second addition involves board policy 5131.8, student activity trips. Currently, student travel is limited to 150 round trip miles and should be completed within a single day. The policy states that the board will approve requests for student travel of greater distance and or duration on recommendation of the principal and the superintendent and after review of the objectives for the travel and plans for transportation, meals, lodging funding source and supervision. A suggested addition to the policy would include the sentence, "Care must be taken to protect academic time, trips which require a students absence of more than two days of school will automatically be denied. Additionally, student activities which require travel just prior to or during finals or standard assessment periods will not be approved."
"Would this mean no Madrigal trip?" Board member Marlene Sario said.
The EUHS Madrigal choir is currently in New York singing at Carnegie Hall as part of the National Youth Choir. Their trip fell on the week of STAR testing and students will miss two days of testing. EUHS Principal Don Brinkman said the students will make-up the tests during allotted make-up days.
Whitson said due to changes in test scheduling the choir trip fell at an inopportune time but that trips that fall on and around STAR testing may not be approved as easily as they once were. Whitson stressed that the topic was discussion only and the submitted policy was a starting point.
This initial policy would affect mainly club or organization activities that occurred around testing. At the previous board meeting Whitson discussed with the board the possibility of keeping some FFA students from attending the State FFA Convention which occurred April 17-20. Star testing began April 21 at the high school. Whitson said those students who had not displayed proficient skill in the STAR assessments should not be approved for the trip. The board voted to approve the FFA trip due to the fact that students had already applied and been selected to attend the convention. Discussion on the matter will continue. If the board decides to create a policy concerning trips near STAR testing it will most likely be set prior to the next school year.
In Other Business