St. Joseph school district touts M-STEP results

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — The St. Joseph school board learned Monday its district is leading Berrien County in several subjects.

The board received statewide scores for the fairly new M-STEP testing that the district participated in May.

M-STEP, known as Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, replaced MEAP testing in the spring of 2015 and incorporated new standards in reading and math. The change in standards set higher expectations for students in elementary and secondary schools across the state.

Curriculum Director Kelly Gaideski broke down the district’s M-STEP results through a presentation that compared the district’s performance by grade and subject.

Gaideski said St. Joseph schools were scored No. 1 in 11 out of the 18 tests given in Berrien County.

Superintendent Ann Cardon said the administration is thrilled by the results. When the board received the first round of M-STEP results in November 2015, Cardon referred to last year’s scores as “sobering.”

“We’re really proud of the work that’s going on in every classroom in the district,” Cardon said. “We just need to show continued growth that we’ve seen from last year.”

One of the reasons for a change in testing from MEAP to M-STEP was a call to move from memorization to “deep knowledge and understanding.”

This was the second year Michigan’s public schools have been taking part in M-STEP.

Some of the noteworthy stats included the district’s overwhelming amount of college-ready students and a bump in math skills. While the district posted the highest score in science proficiency for the county, many board members felt the score was too low.

“We’re still working with these new standards. They’re constantly changing,” Cardon said. “Just when we think everything is worked out, new standards come in.”

Other agenda items

Board members approved the National Transportation Education Association (NTEA) agreement that would increase the base salary of bus drivers by 2 percent.

Cardon said their bus drivers originally agreed to a 5 percent pay cut about five years ago to help with the district’s budget.

“When we can (give them a raise) we have been,” Cardon said. “Since that pay cut, they’ve been slowly making their way back. They have been great partners with us.”

Student Senate President Mia Altholz was introduced to the board and gave a report on homecoming and the Student Senate’s upcoming projects.

Cardon also individually introduced nine new teachers who began working in the district this school year.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 27, 2016)
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