Shaker's state test scores show students keeping up with averages

BELMONT — Students in the Shaker Regional School District scored consistently above the state average in English Language Arts in the recent Smarter Balanced Assessment Tests and were for the most part on par with the state students in math.

In Grades 3 through 8, the Shaker students scored on average seven points higher in English Language Arts than students in the rest of the state. In grades 7 and 8, 73 and 74 percent of the students respectively scored at or above proficiency, handily exceeding the average scores for other seventh- and eighth-grade students in the state.

Math scores were a little more mixed, with grades 6, 7 an 8 performing higher than the rest of the state, while the fifth-graders appeared to struggle with the math tests with only 26 percent scoring at a proficient or better level. Sixty-eight percent of the English Language Arts students scored at proficient or above, ahead of the state average by five points.

According to the draft minutes of the Dec. 8 School Board meeting where the scores were presented, Middle School Principal Aaron Pope said he and his staff were providing extra focus on the students in the fifth grade and working toward increasing all of the student's scores.

Overall, the elementary students who were tested did about the same as the rest of the state. In English Language Arts, the third and fourth graders scored 63 and 64 percent respectively at proficient or above while the balance of the state's students averaged in the middle 50s.

In math, 46 percent of the third-grade students scored at proficient or above, while the state average was 53 percent. In Grade 4, Shaker students and state students scored 49 percent proficient or above.

Belmont Elementary Principal Sheila Arnold and Canterbury Elementary School Principal Mary Morrison said students practiced a great deal for the tests, but school board members said they are still concerned with the math scores that were slightly below the state average. These were the first tests taken on a computer rather than pencil and paper.

The only high school students tested by the Smarter Balanced were the juniors, who will be tested by the SATs next year for their levels of proficiency. Shaker students scored 38 percent proficient or above, but Principal Dan Clary told the board that even though those scores were slightly higher than the state average, he would like to see them improve. He said the same thing about the English scores that showed 49 percent of the juniors were proficient and above while the state averaged 50 percent. Draft minutes of the meeting reflected that he has sent a letter home to parents explaining how the school district will help the student's improve their scores.

In science, students are still tested in their junior year with the NECAP tests and 52 percent of Shakers students who scored proficient or better, besting the state by 17 points.

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Gilford selectmen OK pond engineering study

GILFORD — The Selectboard gave Fire Chief Steve Carrier permission to spend $13,400 for engineering services for preparing for work on the fire pond on Alvah Wilson Road that serves the high school and middle school campus.
Carrier said the brook that feeds the pond was rerouted right through the pond about five years ago, and the pond is now filled with silt making it less effective for firefighting purposes.
He said part of the answer is dredging the pond, but the real solution is to reroute the brook back to its original banks and keep the pond clear of silt.
Carrier noted the entire area where the pond is located is swampy, so the pond will still fill with water even if the river doesn't run through it.
Selectmen agreed that is it a key firefighting pond in that area and said the expertise is justified.

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First Student lauded by police and managment for job well done in Friday school bus accident

BELMONT – Local police and the manager of the First Student Bus company are lauding the actions taken by their driver last Friday at 4 p.m. when her bus was rear-ended by an alleged drunk driver at the railroad tracks that cross Route 3 near Dutile Shore Road.

Lt. Rich Mann said not only was the driver able to maintain control of her bus, but she was able to calm the elementary-aged Belmont children and still manage to get the license plate and identification of the car that hit them and fled.

With her assistance, said Mann, Sanbornton Police were able to arrest Raya Sar, 29, of Laconia Road in Sanbornton and charge him with driving while intoxicated. Sar, who was released on personal recognizance bail, also faces one count of leaving the scene of an accident. His court date is Jan. 7 in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Sar admitted to police that he had been at a Christmas party at his job and had consumed alcoholic beverages.

One child was taken by ambulance to the Lakes Region General Hospital with a minor head wound and was released later that night. Mann said the rest of the students were upset but "in good hands with that driver."

Student First Belmont Location Manager Joyce Howard-Sigler said she couldn't identify the driver according to company rules but noted that she "is an amazing job" and the company is proud of her and all their drivers.

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