Johnson County Central School Improvement Process
External Team Visitation Report (PDF) - External Visitation Dates: March 14th-15th, 2021
School Improvement Newsletter Article - March 2021 (PDF)
“All students will improve in reading comprehension.”
After analyzing student data, the faculty, staff, and administration determined that our school improvement efforts should focus on the improvement of reading comprehension for all students. This school improvement goal was selected and then implemented during the 2016-2017 school year and has continued to be the focus of student learning and achievement in our district.
Over the past five years, JCC administration and faculty have focused on reading comprehension by implementing the use of graphic organizers throughout the curriculum and all grade levels. The attention has been on identifying important information and organizing the information in a visual way. Having a visual is useful for many students to make connections between what they know and the new information they are learning. It also keeps students engaged in active learning as they are recording the information while listening and discussing the lesson, story, chapter, unit, or activity.
The measurable goal for our students is as follows:
For those are meeting Mean RIT and Above:
- All 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.*
*Due to the Coronavirus school shutdown, our goal changed from measuring improvement from the fall MAP to the spring MAP. Instead we are now measuring the growth from fall from one year to fall of the next year.
MAP, which stands for Measures of Academic Progress, is an assessment used school-wide in the fall, winter (for some grades), and spring to gauge student progress. According to the Northwest Evaluation Association or NWEA, “student MAP testing results are reported in RIT scores (short for Rasch Unit). A RIT score is an estimation of a student's instructional level and also measures student progress or growth in school.” This information is helpful in making informed decisions about the programs or strategies that help students learn.
As we look through the data from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2020, we see that our students are making progress in the area of reading comprehension. The following chart shows the percentage of students at each grade level that have met our school improvement measurable goal as stated above.
Current Grade Levels
Percentage that met Goal
On March 15, 2021, we will host an External Team. This team consists of administrators and teachers. We will share information about our district - academics, extracurricular activities, facilities, demographics, and data. They will walk through our halls, visit classrooms, talk with our students, and hold interviews with personnel. This External Team will determine our strengths and areas for improvement. This feedback guides our school district on next steps to improve teaching and learning for our students.
School Improvement Committees (Jan 2021)
Continuous Improvement Planning Cycle
The Nebraska Frameworks
Johnson County Central Public Schools
After the conclusion of the school improvement accreditation cycle in 2016, the administration and school board members researched AdvancED and Frameworks to determine the next step in the school improvement process. By the spring of 2017, the decision was made to change to The Nebraska Framework.
According to the Nebraska Department of Education, “The basic purpose of the continuous improvement process is to conduct an ongoing process for reviewing the educational performance and growth of students and, in those areas where performance is lower than expected or preferred, to institute a process of examining the reasons, setting improvement goals, identifying strategies aimed at improving the learning goal area, and verifying the performance gains” (The Nebraska Framework, p. 5, July 2012).
Johnson County Central Public Schools follows the guidelines found in The Framework for the implementation of the continuous improvement cycle. This is taken from the Framework:
Step 1: Establish a Continuous Improvement Planning Team
- The committee organizes and coordinates all school improvement activities
- Have a minimum of five members including: a chair and/or co-chairs, administration, special education (preK-elem/sec), regular education (pre-K elem/sec), counselor, parent, student, Board of Education member
At Johnson County Central Public Schools the steering team is selected by the Superintendent. The faculty and staff are involved in the process and are assigned into each of the school improvement committees to help carry out the goals for each committee. School board members and a few students are also asked to be on a committee.
Step 2: Establish a schedule for meeting
- Establish monthly meeting dates for the school year at the beginning of the school year for the purpose of coordinating school improvement work. e.g. The 2nd Monday of every month from 4:00 - 5:00. e.g. The same night as board meetings.
- Set norms for meetings e.g. Assume positive intentions, Listen to increase Understanding, Maintain confidentiality, Monitor air time, Allow everyone an equal voice
- Special meetings may be called as needed
At Johnson County Central Public Schools the administration and School Improvement Chairperson select monthly meeting dates depending on the school calendar. The meetings are for the steering committee to meet and discuss any questions and share information from each committee. These meeting dates are also a time to get the entire faculty and staff together to discuss where the district is at in terms of the continuous process. These meeting dates are also used for each committee to meet and work towards the goals of the school improvement process. Committees are to keep meeting notes and agendas for each group.
There are times when the monthly meeting is used for the administration to discuss other school improvement goals such as in the area of programming and facilities.
Step 3: Establish meeting agendas
- Send agenda to CIP Team prior to meeting
- Assign someone to take notes during the meeting
- Share out minutes after the meeting
At Johnson County Central Public Schools, the Chairperson of the School Improvement team writes and sends or hands out an agenda to all committee leaders and committee members for the monthly meetings. This agenda is also a place for committee members to write notes or takes the minutes of the individual meetings. The committees choose a member to keep notes for the groups. The Chairperson of the team shares this information with the administration and school board to keep them knowledgeable of the continuous process. The Chairperson also writes articles for the school newsletter and website to share information with the stakeholders.
Step 4: Review mission and vision of district
- Consider reviewing the district mission and vision every five years
At Johnson County Central Public Schools, the mission statement is reviewed and changed when the committee feels there is a more complete and concise statement needed. The wording of the statement must encompass the goals for the education of all students.
Step 5: Review data
- Establish data sources (student learning, demographic, perceptual, program, etc...)
- Create a data profile to be updated yearly
- Establish a timeline for reviewing data e.g. monthly, quarterly, each semester
- Use a protocol for reviewing data
- Share analysis of data with staff by holding all-staff meetings during which data is discussed
At Johnson County Central Public Schools, data is collected and reviewed during the annual data retreats. This data is shared with the faculty and administration to lead the decision making process. Faculty keep records of individual classroom assessments, baseline and benchmark data, formative assessments and summative assessments. Faculty also have access to ACT data, MAP data, and NSCAS data. This data is important when determining interventions needed for the success of each student.
Step 6: Determine the school improvement goal
- Create an action plan related to the goal
- Baseline data
- Establish a timeline for implementation of the plan
- Communicate the plan
- Implement and monitor the plan
- Evaluate the plan
At Johnson County Central Public Schools, the school improvement goal is discussed with the entire faculty and staff. The review of data is used to determine the most needed area for growth in students. The steering committee researches effective practices and leads the faculty and staff in the implementation of the action plan. The action plan is established, monitored, updated, and changed if or when necessary.
Step 7: Recognize progress and affirm successes
At Johnson County Central Public Schools, student success is celebrated by acknowledging students who achieve academically in the classroom. Students are placed on the Honor Roll starting in the Middle School. Students who achieve well on state and national assessments are celebrated through the newsletter and newspaper. Classroom teachers use formative and summative assessments to gauge student learning and make decisions about curriculum and instruction. Classroom teachers also send personal notes, and messages to parents about their achievements. Johnson County Central has a Facebook page and Twitter account that are used to share accomplishments and other information.
Johnson County Central follows the expectations of “The Thunderbird Way.” This is our vocabulary that is used to help students succeed in the school setting. There are four components at the Preschool through Third Grade building. These are:
Be a Learner.
At the middle school this language changes a bit. The vocabulary used is:
In high school students volunteer their services through many projects or activities. Students who volunteer 10-19 hours receive a Bronze medal. Students volunteering 20-29 hours receive
Silver medal. Students who volunteer 30 or more hours receive a Gold medal.
Mission Statement (PDF)
Mission and Vision Committee
The mission and vision committee included the members of the steering committee, a student, and a school board member. The committee met in the computer lab over several weeks to discuss options for the new statement. Each person completed the questions on page seven of the Nebraska Framework Handbook as the beginning point of those conversations.
After long conversations over those questions and during several meetings, it was unanimous that the letters JCC remain in that statement. The group also unanimously agreed that the statement be much more concise than the previous statement, and used the words: journey, opportunities, commitment in some form of the word, and excellence. The committee felt that these words defined the district’s purpose and direction of educating students.
The word journey was important to include because the education of students is about teamwork. It is a process. This begins in the home with students and parents, and then with the addition of faculty, staff, and administration. It is a journey through the development of each and every student.
The committee also felt it important that the statement include wording that focused on academic opportunities offered both on site and off. At the same time, the committee wanted wording that showed the commitment to reach all students with different teaching and learning strategies and with equality for all.
The committee also felt that the word excellence be included due to the professional development that is offered and supported in the district whether it be in program areas, extracurricular activities, or technology. These workshops, clinics, and courses provide opportunities for faculty and staff to strengthen teaching and coaching methods.
The statements that everyone agreed on were these:
1. Journey Together... Creating Opportunities... Committed to Excellence.
2. Journey Together... Committed to Excellence... Creating Opportunities
3. Journey Together... Creating Opportunities... Committed to Excellence
4. Journey Together ... Creating Opportunities... Committing to Excellence
As a committee these were the key points that are the focus for teaching and learning for the district, but wanted the input of the staff and students. A survey went out to all staff and students in grades 6-12. There were 160 responses. The one with the most votes was #1.
The new Mission and Vision Statement which is hanging throughout the buildings in English and Spanish reads;
Journey Together... Creating Opportunities... Committed to Excellence
School Improvement Process - August 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.
Submitted by Robyn Faris, School Improvement Committee Chairperson
School improvement is a requirement of Rule 10, Regulations and Procedures for the Accreditation of Schools. Regulation 009.01A of the Rule establishes the general requirement for the development and implementation of a school improvement process that “promotes quality learning for all students” and that - in public schools - incorporates multicultural education. (Nebraska Department of Education, The Nebraska Framework, p. 2, July 2011)
“The basic purpose of the continuous improvement process is to conduct an on-going process for reviewing the educational performance and growth of students and, in those areas where performance is lower than expected or preferred, to institute a process of examining the reasons, setting improvement goals, identifying strategies aimed at improving the learning goal area, and verifying the performance gains.” (Nebraska Department of Education, The Nebraska Framework, p. 5, July 2011)
Below are the steps outlined in the Nebraska Department of Education Framework for schools to follow during the school improvement process.
SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT LEADERSHIP
Step 1: Establish a Steering Committee for the Continuous Improvement Process
Step 2: Build understanding and Commitment to the Purpose and Process of School Improvement
Step 3: Develop the Timeline
Step 4: Create Committee Structures
Step 5: Update the Mission
CREATING THE PROFILE
Step 1: Determine Data Sources
Step 2: Include Student Performance Data
Step 3: Consider Perceptual Data
Step 4: Consider Program Data
Step 5: Include Demographic Data
Step 6: Organize and Present Data
Step 7: Reflect on and Analyze Data
Step 8: Check the Profile for Recommended Components
SETTING THE GOALS
Step 1: Prioritize the Areas of Need
Step 2: Determine the School Improvement Goals
Step 3: Research Effective Practices
PLANNING TO IMPROVE
Step 1: Develop Action Plan Strategies
Step 2: Reflect on Strategies and Interventions
Step 3: Write the Action Plan
Step 4: Establish Baseline/Post-Intervention Evaluation Data
IMPLEMENTING THE PLAN
Step 1: Help all Staff Develop an Understanding of the Goals and Strategies
Step 2: Monitor the Implementation
Step 3: Determine Effectiveness of the Intervention
Step 4: Recognize Progress, Affirm Successes