Superintendent News & Views
I'm PROUD of our G-R Students & Teachers!
By David Hill, Gladbrook-Reinbeck Superintendent
In December, the Iowa Department of Education released reports showing how public schools performed in a new accountability system that meets the requirements of the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA, as it is called, is a replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act.
The Iowa School Performance Profiles include each school building's scores on a set of accountability measures and includes the overall rating plus the performance of “subgroups” of students. These subgroups include students of various ethnicities, special education students, students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and non-native English speakers.
Besides the performance measures (which rely on the Iowa Assessment, a test that is being replaced by a new state assessment in 2019), there is an indicator of school climate that is based on student surveys of engagement. Other measures include student participation in state assessments, academic achievement in reading and math, student growth in reading and math and graduation rate (at the high school level). Each category generates points for a building and then the categories are each weighted.
Based on the school building ratings, the Iowa Department of Education has identified some schools that need “Comprehensive Assistance.” There are 34 such schools across the state. There are 307 other buildings that qualify for “Targeted Support” based on having one or more subgroups that did not attain at the same level as all students.
On last year’s state tests and the other accountability measures, G-R’s students did better than the state averages on nearly every measure. We have no building that needs "Comprehensive Assistance." Looking at our subgroups, students at the elementary level who qualify for free or reduced-price meals through the Federal School Lunch Program did not attain at the same level as all students. Since this single subgroup of students fell just forty-four hundredths of a percentage point below the expected performance level, the elementary will receive "Targeted Support." This targeted support will include additional federal funding along with the opportunity to complete a self-assessment of our instructional practices to determine whether adjustments should be made in terms of how we meet the needs of this subgroup of students.
Our district ratings and the overall student achievement at G-R continue to be something that we can take great pride in. These ratings reflect the efforts of our teachers, associates, and administrators over the last few years to increase our students' growth and proficiency rates in reading and math.
As well as we did, I am cautious in making sweeping judgments based on these performance profiles. This is the state's first attempt with the rankings; the system relies heavily on the Iowa Assessment, an outdated test that is being replaced in 2019 and is certainly not a comprehensive reflection of the high-quality teaching and learning that occurs each day within our classrooms. Furthermore, each year we have a different group of students whose achievement is measured in this system.
I’m proud of the students at G-R and their outstanding academic achievements. I’m also proud of G-R’s teachers, teacher leaders, associates, and principals who work tirelessly to help each student achieve his or her full potential. I encourage your feedback on this column, along with any questions you may have. You are welcome to visit my blog at http://rebelsupt.blogspot.com/ where you can read all of my columns and leave comments if you wish. You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter, where my handle is @DavidRobertHill.