Results from the Iowa School Performance Profiles recently released to area schools and to the public last week rate area schools from “high performing” to “needs improving.”
The online tool shows how public schools performed on required measures. Scores are measured on school accountability required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The six ratings based on those scores are “exceptional,” “high performing,” “commendable,” “acceptable,” “needs improvement” and “priority.”
West Delaware received “commendable” ratings at the high school and middle school, while Lambert Elementary received a “needs improvement” designation.
A piece of the profile that assessed student growth over two years led to the Lambert designation.
“As far as Lambert goes, yes, we’d like that to be better and are doing some things to improve that,” explained Superintendent Dr. Kristen Rickey. “But we are also trying to remember that this is mostly based on one test given on one day almost a year ago. In Lambert, the test was only given to third and fourth graders, which was the issue that caused us to have that rating.”
Rickey said Lambert was at or above state averages in all other areas. “Our proficiencies were good. They were solid.”
Rickey said the district is always interested in improvement. “We are excited about the ‘commendable ratings’ but we still are continuing the work that we do every day to figure out how to do even better than that. The ratings don’t change our work here. We are continuing to work every day to get better.”
Another piece of the assessment, “conditions for learning,” gauged safety, student engagement and the overall learning environment in each building. Given to students in grades 3-12, only surveys from students in grades 6-12 were included in schools’ accountability scores.
Rickey pointed to the hiring of a school social worker last year to help with the social/emotional growth of students. “Our social worker’s job is really to make sure that our social/emotional learning systems are effective, which means we will address some of the behaviors that get in the way of learning.”
Rickey said third and fourth graders at Lambert took that part of the assessment and results from that piece of the assessment rank Lambert above the state average. “Even though it didn’t count in the scores, I was pleased with how we did. It shows me we are making progress in that area. If we don’t do that well, it’s going to get in the way of learning.”
Rickey said she believes the district is doing well. “While we take these assessments seriously as feedback for how we can improve, we know it’s just one piece and doesn’t tell the whole story of our school. We work really hard to improve all the time. We feel like we’re doing the right work.”
At Maquoketa Valley, the high school and middle school received “high performing” ratings, while Johnston Elementary, Earlville Elementary and Delhi Elementary were rated “commendable.”
Maquoketa Valley Superintendent Doug Tuetken was pleased with the findings. “If we strictly look at the comprehension piece of that report and compare Maquoketa Valley, we rated higher than all schools around us. I feel extremely proud of where we finished up on that test.”
He commended his staff for their work. “I’m extremely proud of the work done by Anne Norton (curriculum director) and the administrative team.”
Tuetken also had high praise for his teaching staff. “The work our teachers do day in and day out with kids — parents and district patrons don’t fully understand the time and effort teachers put in. I can’t tell you how proud I am here of the folks at Maquoketa Valley.”
Edgewood–Colesburg Jr./Sr. High school was rated “commendable” while the elementary school in Colesburg received an “acceptable” rating.
Jr./Sr. High School Principal Dawn Voss said she was impressed with how her building compared with area schools. “I am happy to see where we are at with other schools in the area.”
Voss said the junior/senior high needs to work with students who are repeatedly absent from school. The state defines chronic absenteeism as missing 10% or more school days, regardless of the reason. According to the profile, Edgewood-Colesburg has 21.6% of chronically absent students.
“It’s an area I want to combat,” said Voss. “Our kids are just missing too many days.”