Pre-K program, Chromebooks and new assessments are on board for new year
MUNCY – Muncy School District has taken some big leaps this new school year by initiating a new pre-K program, introducing the chromebook technology, and putting forward new measures of academic progress.
School superintendent, Dr. Craig Skaluba said, “We are giving the opportunity for 18 pre-K students through a good partnership with STEP.” He feels that having the program on site at Myers Elementary School will be a good influence for long term education. Dave Spring of Muncy is the coordinator for the program, and also Head Start director for STEP, a private, non-profit community action agency incorporated in Lycoming County since 1966. “For years we have provided Head Start home base services for the Muncy/Hughesville area, but this will be our first year providing a Pre-K center-based classroom in the Muncy elementary school,” Spring said.
In order to be eligible for the state funded program, a family needs to be below 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
Dr. Skaluba is hoping the funding can allow for expansion and more classes in the future through this engaging partnership. The school district also shares food services that are contracted with STEP.
A new student assessment by Northwest Evaluation Association will be instituted. This global organization based in Oregon was founded by educators nearly 40 years ago and partners with school districts to “accelerate student learning.” Results from their data and research are used for educators as teaching tools to increase academics. Known as “Measures of Academic Progress” (MAP) the testing shows student growth throughout the year according to Dr. Skaluba. “We do not have to wait until the end of the year throughout the course,” he replied. The school district looked at other assessments and chose MAP for the growth aspect. “It will show reports for parents and students the areas where more help might be needed, plus areas where they are growing.” The testing specifically breaks down the standards for each grade level showing scores on a scale.
A new app for the district has been developed. “We are doing a lot new digital communications,” said Dr. Skaluba with excitement as he brought out a brand new Chromebook. “Just Google Muncy School District or go to the app store to get it,” he said. It is free and anyone can use it including alumni, parents, students and the community. “Follow it on any mobile device.”
The Chromebooks are a new intitiative this year and were started in circulation last year with the teachers who now will be working more on them with the students. Over 400 of them have been ordered so far for the district, averaging one device per pair. “We are working on getting more of this technology,” affirmed Dr. Skaluba who said that this i-cloud technology is more economical for the district. Chromebooks are laptops with their own operating system that connect to the internet. Introduced by Google and Samsung, schools are their largest customer. The low cost of the hardware, software and maintenance make the Chromebook more cost effective. Live streaming is on board now and there is an activity log and calendar for all to follow online.
“We will send out ‘push notifications’ throughout the year using the app,” described Dr. Skaluba and many can use their mobile devices to access everything. It is good for emergencies and a variety of things for parents such as sports events, fundraisers, insurance info, and physicals.
On the new Muncy School District app there is a student information center. With a password, parents can bring up information about their student and check on classwork, attendance, bus information, library fines, and more. Plans are being made for parent sessions to learn how to effectively use some of the features for the app which was purchased at the beginning of last year. “We want to look for feedback to make it more useful this year,” Dr. Skaluba concluded. It also includes a teacher messaging system, which will show up in the notification system of the app. Referring to the access of forms, he added, “We are trying to do more digital communications with parent emails, but are mailing the forms for now.”
An open house was scheduled for Monday, August 21st. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics) was introduced. “We are integrating this process anywhere we can,” Dr. Skaluba said, “using content in the curriculum and programming.”