Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Iowa Report Card-Hudson Schools

Iowa House File 215, which was passed during the 2013 legislative session is the bill that most have come to associate with the teacher leadership and compensation system. Yet there are many other segments of that bill that are now beginning to mature and become part of our educational landscape and conversation. For example, the component that requires third grade students to be proficient readers by 2017 or face retention was also included in HF 215, along with a study of the evaluation standards that are used for principals and teachers. It is interesting that each component of this landmark legislation evokes different emotions. When considering the teacher leadership and compensation system, we applaud these efforts and believe systems like these are great for student outcomes. On the other hand, when the discussion of retaining non-proficient third grade students is brought up, most universally oppose such an extreme measure. Then again, changing the assessment that Iowa uses to measure student accountability is such a polarizing issue that it remains to be seen if this will even be addressed or simply be cast aside as too costly to implement. Today the Iowa Department of Education rolls out another of these reform components that was included as part of House File 215: The Attendance Center Ranking. 

Titled the Iowa School Report Card, this system is designed to show how each public school in Iowa is performing on certain educational measures. Schools receive a score on each measure, and then the scores are combined into one single score. Each school building is then assigned a rating based on a statistical normal curve. Those ratings are: Exceptional, High-Performing, Commendable, Acceptable, Needs Improvement, and Priority. 

At this time, eight measures are used to calculate the rating. Two additional educational measures, parent involvement and community activities/involvement, will be added in the future. It is important to note that 80% of the data used to calculate the school rating on the Iowa Report Card is based on the results from the Iowa Assessments. The measures that are currently used to calculate the rating are:
  1. Proficiency: The percentage of students scoring proficient or better on reading and mathematics assessments.
  2. Closing Achievement Gap: A measure that reflects a statewide goal of narrowing the gap in achievement for students with disabilities, students who are eligible for free and reduced price lunch, and English Language Learners.
  3. College and Career-Ready Growth: The percentage of students who are making the year to year growth necessary to be ready for college and career training by the end of high school.
  4. Annual Expected Growth: The percentage of students making a year of academic growth in a year's time on reading or mathematics assessments.
  5. College and Career Readiness: The percentage of students who score at or above a level of performance in reading and mathematics that predicts a higher probability of post-secondary success. (Middle/high school only.)
  6. Graduation Rate: The percentage of ninth-grade students who finished high school within five years. (High school only.)
  7. Attendance: The average daily attendance of students, which is the total number of days students were enrolled and present divided by the total number of possible days.
  8. Staff Retention: The percentage of teachers, school administrators and other licensed staff members who remained employed in a school over consecutive school years.

Knowing where you are and where you want to go is a key part of growth and improvement. Our school regularly uses education data to tell us how our students are progressing and to adjust instruction for better results.

Each of the attendance centers for the Hudson Community School District has received a ranking under this new system. They are as follows:
  1. Hudson High School: High Performing
  2. Hudson Middle School: Commendable
  3. Hudson Elementary School: Acceptable

While we believe this information can add to conversations in our community about how we’re preparing our students for success, these measures are based on limited data. And, as we know from other accountability initiatives such as the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools are so much more than labels. Labels and ratings do not tell the whole story. While I encourage you to explore the information provided in the Iowa School Report Card, you are also urged to get to know the school behind the label. Ask questions about our improvement efforts, and ask what you can do to support our teachers and students.

You can locate our school’s results, as well as more information about the Iowa School Report Card, on the following website: For additional information about the Iowa School Report card, please see the enclosed guide.

It will be interesting to see what emotions the Iowa Report Card will evoke in all corners of the state. There is not doubt we often have trouble looking in the mirror! When looking at our data, I encourage you to drill deeply into these measures. In those areas where we shine, celebrate with us! In those areas where we can do better, I encourage you to ask us about our improvement efforts! I promise you, our teachers and administrators are working hard every single day to ensure that we create effective learning environments that enable all our students to be successful. 

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