Results from the Iowa School Performance Profiles recently released to area schools and the public last week rate many area schools in the top three of six possible designations.
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.”
Western Dubuque has two schools, Farley Elementary and Cascade Elementary, rated as “exceptional.” The two buildings are among 25 across the state to earn the top rating.
Western Dubuque High School, Cascade Jr./Sr. High School, Peosta Elementary and Epworth Elementary earned a “high performing” rating, while Drexler Middle/Intermediate School and Dyersville Elementary were rated “commendable.”
Western Dubuque Director of Curriculum and Assessment, Kelly Simon, said administrators are proud of how the district’s schools fared on the assessments.
“We are so extremely proud of all of our schools. There are six categories of ratings and we have all of our schools in the top three categories. That is absolutely nothing short of fantastic.”
Simon admitted to a bit of skepticism about the assessment, which was given to students close to a year ago. “The academic test had changed, so I think everybody held their breath a bit. I think all across the state we were skeptical of what the results could look like.”
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.
Simon believes the district can learn much from the results of the “conditions for learning” piece. “The fact that those results aren’t based on academic measures alone is extremely important in our view,” she said. “We take these results very seriously because it is that well-rounded piece, not just an academic focus.”
Simon credits the district’s approach to their success. “We work so hard as a district to come together on just a few important things. We don’t try to catch every initiative that comes through educational doors. We are just really focusing all of us together doing the work. That’s where we see the payoff.”
According to Simon, that payoff includes everyone. “This isn’t just an administration thing or just a teacher thing. It takes all of us working together to make results like this happen. You feel the satisfaction and pride throughout the whole district when you see something on paper that you knew you were capable of.”
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.
At the elementary, Superintendent and Elementary Principal Rob Busch said, “Looking at the results, I kind of go back to a quote by John Wooden who said ‘Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished but what you should have accomplished with your ability.’”
Busch continued, “That’s what we are working toward around here. We are challenging kids to do their best and find their niche in the world. We want to help them find the skills they need to work and improve on. We are trying to get them better overall as a student as well as a good person who will go out into the world in the future.”
Busch cited assessment results in math. “We were above the state average in math. We went to a different math curriculum and are seeing some great results there.”
Busch said information in the new profile wasn’t as detailed as in years past. “This assessment was pretty broad. We didn’t get the as-detailed information and weren’t able to dive down into it and see where our students were struggling. The categories were pretty broad.”