MANTI—Manti High School may get a greenhouse next year, as part of the Career Technical Education (CTE) program for the South Sanpete School’s District, according to CTE director Mark Anderson, who reviewed district goals at their board meeting last Wednesday.
The greenhouse will be approximately 30’ X 50’ and will be funded from federal grants and state funding. Anderson said North Sanpete High School is doing great things with its new greenhouse, and this will allow Manti students to learn horticulture skills as part of certain pathways to careers.
Utah Aerospace Manufacturing Pathway (UAP)
Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and UAP board recently approved a Utah Aerospace Manufacturing Pathway for central Utah. In partnership with ACT Aerospace in Gunnison, two GVHS students completed a full internship spring semester, which allows them an interview at any aerospace industry in Utah. Current plans are to expand this opportunity to more local schools.
CTE programs encourage students to choose pathways to potential careers and get practical education in those areas while in high school. Students benefit by finding out if they really want those careers after some actual experience and are better prepared to intern after graduation.
Early Learning Plan
Arlene Anderson, programs director, reported on the districts early learning plan. Formerly the early reading program, which next year will include early math, as well as literacy goals for pre-kindergarten through grade three students.
The dynamic indicators of basic early literacy skills (DIBELS) tests are given to early elementary students at the beginning, middle and end of the school year to measure reading literacy improvement.
Last year’s goals, admittedly the “COVID” year, included an increase in first grade scores by six percent. The tests showed an 11 percent increase, “which was really good considering the challenges we faced last year,” Anderson said.
For second grade, at the beginning of the year, the goal was to go from moving 45 percent of below-benchmark students to increase to 52 percent, a seven percent increase. At the end of the year the district saw a five percent increase.
“Besides losing last year’s spring to COVID closures, and the loss of summer programs, we were grateful that students improved as much as they had,” Anderson said.
DIBELS scores can discourage teachers, because after all they can do, there are still students who are below benchmarks, and each group of students each year is different. “We want our teachers to look at improvements made, and it is clear student literacy does improve over the year,” Anderson said.
To give just a few numbers, in kindergarten, 2018-19, below benchmark students went from 68 percent to nine percent. In 2020-21, below benchmark went from 53 percent to 33 percent. Because of COVID, no data was reported for 2019-2020.
In first grade, below benchmark went from 53 to 48 percent in 2018-19, and from 80 to 60 percent in 2020-21. For second grade, below benchmark went from 59 to 42 percent for 2018-19, and from 51 to 42 percent for 2020-21. In third grade, below benchmark went from 44 to 30 percent in 2018-19, and from 59 to 37 percent in 2020-21.
The district’s numbers are better than the state average.
Early out Friday
After considering reports by the three elementary principals on what is being called “Early out Friday” scheduling, the board agreed to continue last year’s program into next year. The program has students getting out around noon on Friday, instead of between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. to give teachers prep and training time.
“We know our teachers are more effective and the quality of teaching increases when they receive professional development, collaborate and are better prepared,” said district superintendent Ralph Squire. “Elementary teachers teach all subject areas so this extra time will help their quality of instruction in all areas. We are confident all our teachers put in far more hours than their contracts, and during this COVID year we decided to give teachers time Friday afternoons for that prep time, for professional development and collaborative meetings.”
“We know we have to balance quality teaching with instructional time,” said councilmember Kim Pickett. “We don’t want to cut recess time, either, because students do so much better after a recess break. I kind of wish we had even more recesses.”
The board listened to a presentation by several concerned parents about freedom, local instructional control and critical race theory (CRT). This theory in part looks at how policies and practices in K-12 education contribute to persistent racial inequalities in education, and advocates for ways to change them. The parents wanted to make sure the theory was not being taught in Sanpete schools.
Superintendent Squire said, “We try to be completely transparent in our district. We believe we have a pretty good idea of what our teachers are saying in classrooms, and don’t think any form of racism or inappropriate topics are being taught. If you have concerns or hear of a specific issue please contact your school administrators with specific concerns, issues, and details.”
There will be no graduation at the Central Utah Correctional Facility this year because of COVID restrictions. Superintendent Squire told the board he was concerned that restrictions were making it even more difficult to teach classes in the prison. “We are worried that if inmates can’t attend classes, the funding for educating prisons may be in jeopardy,” he said.
Board members also expressed their pleasure at how the high school graduations came out this year. “We could tell a lot of parents and students really liked the parade graduation, and we felt graduation services were really quality this year,” said board member Gary Olson.