The school board contracted with the Iowa Association of School Boards to conduct a survey last fall.
They collected data from all stakeholder groups – students, staff, parents, school board members and community – and almost 500 people participated. Their survey items collected data around characteristics found in effective and high-performing schools. The components and the things they gathered information around included:
Goals and Priorities –People indicate they can get better; there are ambitious/stretch goals; there is a lack of excuses; and there is a shared understanding of what the district is trying to improve.
Leadership and Teamwork –District leadership teams are established; people can identify how they have a voice; everyone is clear on roles and responsibilities; leaders protect the focus and ensure goals are met.
Student Achievement – There percentage of students meeting standards is high; there are improvement trends over time; and the achievement gap is closing. (There were not survey items related to this indicator as it is tied to Iowa Assessments and other indicators.)
Standards and Expectations / Assessment System – Standards and expectations are set that are attainable, comprehensive and rigorous; assessment is aligned to standards, rigorous and balanced. Indicators on the survey: all major content within the Iowa Core are included; there is a good level of cognitive demand; the assessment is aligned with the standards; and there must be multiple ways of assessing.
Classroom Instruction / Professional Development– That instruction is engaging, and with evidence of research-based instructional practices and tasks that include a blend of cognitive demand and rigor. Student learning needs drive the professional development work; there is adequate time for collaboration; and it is focused on improving instruction. Indicators on the survey included: instruction actively engages the students; there is evidence of research-based instructional practices; instructional tasks include a blend of cognitive demand/rigor; and professional development is focused on improving instruction.
Parental Involvement and Satisfaction – Indicators include: Parents are satisfied with the school; they are involved in their child’s education; and they are informed of their student’s progress. When asked about the top priorities for improvement, parent indicated meeting individual needs and preparing for college, career and life. Staff indicated student achievement and reading. Students indicated preparation for college, career and life.
When asked about what the school district does well, parents indicated communication. Staff indicated using data in decision making. Students indicated technology and extracurricular activities.
As far as what needs to change, parents indicated parental involvement; staff indicated student engagement; and students indicated anti-bullying followed closely by student engagement and teaching.
IASB noted the following strengths:
1. 80% of staff members report they have a clear idea of what the district is trying to improve.
2. Two-thirds of staff say that virtually all students can achieve at high levels.
3. Most respondents believe that parents are well informed of their student’s progress.
4. Three-quarters of the staff say that the district has strong leadership teams.
5. Virtually all parents and staff members agree that parents must be partners in education.
6. Three-quarters of staff members report that student learning needs drive their professional development.
IASB made the following recommendations.
1. We should create urgency and consensus among all groups around the believe that virtually all students can learn at high levels, that barriers can be overcome, and that major improvements can and will be made in student achievement.
2. We need to place more emphasis on active student engagement in the classroom.
3. We should work so that all stakeholders know how leadership teams are organized and understand how they have a voice in decision making. IASB encourages districts to review assessment data to see how students are achieving. We recently received results from this year’s Iowa Assessments. While it is only one measure, taken over a few days, and it not the only assessment measure we should look at, our results are very positive. When we review the data from each grade level, it is apparent that great things are happening inside our classrooms. We receive data comparing us to other schools in the Grant Wood Area and to the state. In almost every category, our students achieved better than their peers in Grant Wood or across the state. When we review the preliminary data by whether or not students are proficient, we see the following by grade level (the second number is the percent of students who were highly proficient – earning a score above 90%). (Statistically, schools would expect about 60% to be proficient and 10% to be highly proficient.)
Grade Level Reading Math Science
3rd Grade 90% (35%) 89% (45%) 92% (17%)
4th Grade 88% (41%) 89% (44%) 89% (37%)
5th Grade 88% (39%) 86% (40%) 84% (25%)
6th Grade 79% (31%) 85% (39%) 83% (22%)
7th Grade 84% (23%) 92% (37%) 83% (23%)
8th Grade 90% (36%) 93% (49%) 94% (25%)
9th Grade 88% (23%) 79% (21%) 82% (24%)
10th Grade 82% (31%) 78% (20%) 80% (29%)
11th Grade 85% (14%) 93% (30%) 88% (38%)
While Iowa Assessments is just one measure of student learning, we can all be proud of the work that our staff and students are doing to do well on this measure!
If you have any questions about IASB’s information or Iowa Assessments, please contact Mary Jo Hainstock at Central Office – 436-5685 or email@example.com.