By Sophie Pappas
At the June 9 meeting of the Zionsville Community School Corporation Board of Trustees, the board addressed several hot-topic issues such as random drug testing, and the ALEKS math network.
Below are updates on some of the items discussed. The next school board meeting is at 6 p.m., July 14, in the Educational Services Center, 900 Mulberry St.
ALEKS math network
The debate over ALEKS math continued, as disgruntled parents took to the microphone to address the board. This came after Supt. Dr. Scott Robison presented the Purdue University review of the computerized ALEKS math program. Zionsville parent Sarah Weidner helped lead the petition for the school’s evaluation of the program.
The review states the following cons or challenges in ALEKS:
- Some students in middle school are not ready for self-guided computer learning
- Very little higher-level mathematical thinking is built in to the ALEKS curriculum.
- Students and parents are provided with a limited amount of support within ALEKS.
Many of the parental concerns presented are that ALEKS is an emotional and mental stressor for students, and encourages them to rush through math problems without really learning how the correct answers can be achieved.
“Our focus is on student grow, and we want our students to do well,” Robison said, and noted that any recommendations from the Purdue review are his recommendations to the board.
One Zionsville parent, David Brake, addressed the board with an emotional account of his family’s struggles with ALEKS.
“I think that we need to know not only how effective ALEKS is … but we need to know if it is doing harm to the mental health of our students,” Brake said.
Board member Bill Stanczykiewicz said that while there has been no decrease in test scores since the implementation of ALEKS, there has also been no increase. He said that he wishes the Purdue study included more parental input, and that if he knew what he knows now about ALEKS he might not have voted in favor of it more than three years ago.
“I didn’t hear the parent voice and I was saddened by that,” Stanczykiewicz said.
Board member Joe Stein said he would like to see a little more work put into making sure ALEKS problems are resolved before the next school year begins.
“I as a father have sat at the table watching each of my kids cry as I am teaching them math,” he said. “It’s about teaching kids to think. I think that’s one of the shortcomings of ALEKS. It’s too easy for these kids to just put answers in…just so they can complete a piece of the pie.”
The administration has agreed to continue the discussion of ALEKS and its effectiveness in the schools.
Neighbors in the Cobblestone Lakes subdivision rejoiced as Robison announced that the proposed maintenance facility on County Road 875 would not be built.
What it means:
A large multi-room storage facility will not be constructed in the proposed residential area, but this means that ZCS will need to find storage elsewhere on existing campuses.
The board approved the superintendent’s proposal to begin plans for a smaller, more concealed storage facility behind Pleasant View Elementary.
Random Drug Testing
Parents and students of Zionsville Community High School spoke out against random drug testing.
What it means:
The board will continue to discuss ZCHS Principal Tim East’s plan of random drug testing for all students who participate in sports, park their cars on school property, or are involved in extra curricular activities.
Principal East will provide answers to the board’s additional questions and make all information available to the public via the school’s website.