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School Improvement Progress: August 2020

July 14, 2020

School Improvement is an ongoing process that examines our practices, programs, and curriculum. From these observations we make plans to improve teaching practices to increase student learning and achievement. Standards alignment, assessment practices, professional development opportunities, curriculum reviews, use of researched-based instructional practices, community support, and addressing and celebrating diversity are all critical for the school improvement process.  

In the spring of 2021 we will have an external review.  A group of professionals from around the state will spend a few days in our hallways and classrooms making observations, and will meet with groups of school personnel, students, and parents. We have several committees gathering the information needed for this external review. From interviews, observations, and examinations of documents, the team creates a report that gives our district a summary of what the team finds are our strengths and areas for improvement, and suggestions as to how we can make those improvements. The school improvement process is a continuous process with external reviews scheduled every five years, so that schools are always self-evaluating, setting goals, and striving to meet those goals for the benefit of the students.

A critical part of the school improvement process is to look at student data and determine what the strengths and weaknesses are in student achievement. This is how schools determine a student measurable goal for the process. As a collective group, all faculty and staff, met in small groups and large groups to identify our area of most need. Overall, the conversations turned to improving reading comprehension. In looking closely at the data, it revealed that our students need to grow in the area of finding the main idea and details when reading. For understanding, students must be able to find the critical information, the most important points that lead to true meaning. Because of this we determined that our goal is this:  

School Improvement Goal
“All students will improve in reading comprehension.”

Our next step was to select a research-based approach to instructing students in this area. The steering committee researched, met, discussed, and determined that implementing the use of graphic organizers in classrooms Preschool through Grade Twelve, would benefit all students. When students are taking quality notes through the use of a guide, a graph, a map, an organizer, they are pinpointing the most critical information and the details that help explain that information. Teachers have selected and continue to select graphic organizers that fit their lessons, units, or projects. When the external team visits they will have access to a binder containing samples of such graphic organizers to see how they were implemented in classrooms.

There are many people at work collecting information to be submitted to the Nebraska Department of Education prior to the external review. Faculty and staff are working on committees with almost everyone taking a part in the process. The committees are as follows:

The Mission Committee has developed a new mission statement for our district. The committee developed four statements in which they incorporated the letters JCC as the past statement had incorporated. The committee then sent a survey to all staff and students in grades 6-12 asking for their votes. There were 160 responses. The Mission and Vision Statement which received the most votes, and is up in classrooms in English and Spanish reads:

Journey Together... Creating Opportunities... Committed to Excellence

The Profile Committee is collecting information about our school district. This will create a snapshot of Johnson County Central Schools. It will include demographic data, program data, and resources.

The Professional Development Committee is documenting workshops, conferences, coursework, inservices, and resources that focus on teaching practices, student learning, research, and the school improvement goal.

The Student Performance Committee is analyzing data from ACT, NSCAS, MAP, and STAR assessments. The committee will look at individual data as well as cohort data. There must be a measurable goal for the improvement goal. The steering committee determined that the MAP RIT scores will be that measurable tool. Therefore;

Using the MAP assessment, the measurable goals for our students are:

For those are meeting Mean RIT and Above:

  • Students who score At or Above the Mean RIT score on their fall MAP test will maintain or improve their score on the spring MAP test and remain at or above the mean RIT score in the spring.

 For those Below Mean RIT:

  • Kindergarten through 4th grade students will increase their RIT score by 5 Rasch units from the fall testing to the spring testing on MAP tests OR score at  or above the mean RIT on the spring test.  
  • Fifth through eleventh grade students will increase their RIT score by 3 Rasch units from the fall testing to the spring testing on MAP tests OR score at or above the mean RIT on the spring test. 

The Perceptual Data Committee is collecting data from student surveys, staff surveys, stakeholder surveys, and graduate surveys. This information is valuable for understanding the thoughts of our students, their parents, and our faculty and staff. This information is vital for decision making and future goals.  

The Action Plan Committee is documenting the strategies, resources, and activities that our school is using to address the school improvement goal. 

The external team is set to visit in April of 2021. Once we receive their report, we will publish that information in the newsletter and on the school website.

Submitted by Robyn Faris, School Improvement Committee Chairperson