Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hudson Shows Improvement on Iowa Report Card

Late last week the Iowa Department of Education released the results of the 2016 Iowa School Report Card. This web-based tool is designed to give Iowans a snapshot of how each attendance center is performing based on a number of required measures. Because this report card is attendance center dependent, Hudson Schools receives a rating for both the K-6 and 7-12 attendance center (elementary and secondary). Schools are ranked in one of six categories ranging from: Priority, Needs Improvement, Acceptable, Commendable, High Performing, or Exceptional. 

I am proud to share with you that our K-6 (elementary) scored in the Commendable level. Not only that they improved 4.4 points, moving from 64.7-69.1! (*Note: points in these rankings should not be confused with percentages. This is merely the scale used.) All the metrics and variables in this category were an improvement over last year. Yet perhaps most significant is the improvement in our free and reduced lunch population. (See graphic to the right.) Further, overall proficiency in both math and reading grew significantly helping the overall score. This is no fluke mind you, this is a result of hard work, attention to detail, and a committed effort on the part of our teachers, parents, and students alike. You may recall just a few short weeks ago the discussion we had in this very blog about effect size. These results further validate the work of our teacher leadership system and the robust professional development plan that we have in place.

Our secondary attendance center also showed improvement over last year, growing from 72.4 points to 74 points (*again please note this is not a percentage). In this case, the building is ranked in the High Performing level, which ranks it in the top 9% of schools in the state to reach this category. Obviously one of our most impressive metrics here has to be the 100% graduation rate, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the 97.8% math proficiency of the 10th grade class! Once again, this can be attributed to the hard work of everyone involved in ensuring that our students have access to high quality instruction that is tightly aligned to the Iowa Core Academic Standards. Teachers are working in collaboration to review, offer suggestions, and insights into units of instruction that are shared in a system of peer review know as Authentic Intellectual Work or AIW. This year we have elevated the level of expectation from our teachers by asking them to record themselves delivering instruction and then sharing that instruction with colleagues for critique. There must be no mistake this level of feedback has strengthened instruction which, as evidenced above has had a positive  impact on student outcomes!

If you have questions about the Iowa School Report card or about the progress of your child in school please feel free to contact us. You can view the Iowa School Report card by clicking right here. Simply type 'Hudson' into the search box to view our results. I would also invite you to take a look at the category at the bottom of the ranking titled 'Parent Involvement Teacher Survey Results'. In the future this category will be used to help rank each school.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yeah, Tuesday Actually Happened Like That

Well, as far as days of instruction go, Tuesday didn't go as planned. For those of you that don't know what happened, we managed to have a late start and dismiss classes early that day. Believe me, that is certainly not the way I wanted the day to unfold. I know how inconvenient that was for parents and deeply apologize for the problems this may have caused you. To add insult to injury we had technical difficulties with our messaging systems. Let me give you a briefing into how the day went, not as an excuse mind you, but rather a glimpse into how the day unfolded.

For starters, many of you know that I have been commuting from South of Cedar Rapids the last several months while my house was finished (luckily that is now done and we are in the process of moving). In Cedar Rapids on Tuesday morning it was 37 degrees and overcast. When I got my first briefing at 5:30 a.m., the roads in Hudson were merely wet. I wasn't at all concerned until our transportation director called about 6:15 a.m. and told me that North Tama and Gladbrook-Reinbeck had decided to delay the start of classes by two hours. Mr. Dieken called shortly thereafter and shared that roads in Cedar Falls were beginning to get slick, but Cedar Falls schools were going to be on time.

Around that time I decided to make my way to Hudson, from Cedar Rapids mind you. Around 6:30 I found myself on the side of the road on Highway 30 having a phone conversation with Chief Marsh who told me that roads in town were pretty slick. It was at that time I decided to delay school. Mind you, we already had students at school for early morning practices, but the timing didn't work to get everyone home. So I asked the coaches to hold with the students, and luckily Miss Cuvelier and several other teachers handled things from their end. Thank you Miss Cuvelier, Mrs. Dietz, and Mrs. Dekutoski! By the time I got to Hudson about an hour later, I was beginning to think that we probably would have been okay to go, but of course by then it was too late. 

After I had a chance to get my coat off and sit down at my desk, a colleague called and told me that he was thinking of going ahead and canceling school for the day. I thought, 'no way', we are going to get the day in. Heck, it's still 37 degrees outside! Needless to say, he ended up cancelling and causing far less of a disruption that I was going to a mere two hours later. 

All through that morning I was convinced that we were going to get the day in while everyone else around my cancelled. In fact, I went so far as to call the National Weather Service and have them report to me that if I could just hold on until 3:00, the weather would break and the sun would start shining. Unfortunately right after I hung up the phone, our two neighbors to the North decided to dismiss classes and our phones began to blow up. Once that happens we are in a pretty tough spot. 

Well, sure enough by 3:00 the weather broke and it was relatively pleasant outside. The moral of the story here is that weather related decisions are almost always judgment calls based on the best information we have available at the time, and the collective wisdom of those making those decisions. When I finally arrived back in Cedar Rapids that evening my wife Ann asked if I got a lot grief for the weather calls that day. I told that I didn't and that people were very understanding. So, I wanted to say thank you for understanding! The fact is, I only received a minimal amount of feedback. 

Moving forward, we do believe we have our technical difficulties addressed. To remind you, our weather cancellation system changed at the beginning of the school year and if you haven't signed up yet, you will need to do that again. If you want to receive text alerts or email alerts, please go to our website and check out the announcement box in the upper right hand corner of the site. You will need to sign up separately for both email alerts and text messages. 

Oh, and in case you are wondering (I know the students probably are), Tuesday will not need to be made up.