Fairbanks students go back to paper tests


Students at Fairbanks will be taking a step away from technology.
At Monday night’s meeting of the Fairbanks Board of Education, the board unanimously voted to have third graders take their state mandated assessments on paper with pencil.
Each year the state requires students in certain grades to take tests in a variety of subject areas. The tests are electronic and taken on computer. Districts can, however, opt to take the test using paper and pencil. To do that, the board must pass a resolution formalizing the decision.
Monday the board did so, deciding that for the 2019-2020 school year, third-grade students would take their English language arts and math assessments the old-fashioned way.
Dr. David Baits, interim superintendent, said the decision was made, “with the teachers’ input.”
“They felt the kids would write more if they were doing it on paper with pencil than if they were doing it electronically,” Baits said.
He said most if not all of this year’s testing is complete and he heard no complaints.
He added that the district already has a computer for each student so finances or technology availability played no role in the decision.
During the meeting, district treasurer Aaron Johnson discussed the state’s recently released Fair School Funding Plan. Under the proposal, Ohio schools would get an additional $720 million over the next two years. The change would boost state foundation funding from $6.85 billion for the fiscal year ending in June to $7.24 billion next year and $7.57 billion the following year.
State officials say the proposal aims to make education fairer and more consistent. The proposal includes a formula that tries to calculate the actual cost to educate a student and each district’s ability to raise local revenue to determine how much the state should spend. The estimates include the basic cost of educating students and additional money for special education, students in poverty and gifted education programs.
“I do think this funding is going to get a lot of scrutiny,” Johnson told the board.
He said the district would likely get “a little bit of a bump” in state funding.
The treasurer added that the funding formula is difficult and not yet finalized.
“There is a lot of things to be looked at,” Johnson said, mentioning open enrollment numbers and the impact of community schools.
Board member Derek Nicol said he attended a seminar on the plan.
“They really don’t have any good answers yet,” Nicol said. “Some people really like it and some people don’t.”
Johnson said more information would likely be available, “sometime probably in June.”
In other news:
– Baits said open enrollment began earlier this month. He said that based on enrollment, staff requests and already received open enrollment applications, the 2019-2020 kindergarten class has 76 students.
He said that with three kindergarten teachers, “we are pretty much where we want to be.”
– Officials from Tolles Technical Center did a civil rights walk through of the district buildings. He said there were “minor issues” with accessibility for students and others with disabilities.
“Overall it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” Baits said.

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