SIAC members discuss district report card

The Red Oak School District’s first school improvement advisory committee meeting of the new year took place on Monday, Feb. 20. 

Superintendent Tom Messinger led the discussion, which included community members, school board representatives, and Red Oak students. The focus of the meeting, which is the first of three over the next several months, was a breakdown of the district report card from the Iowa Department of Education. 

As reported earlier, both Inman Primary and Washington Intermediate received a commendable rating for 2016, which was the same as their ranking from 2015, with totals of 69.8 points and 69.7 points, respectively. However, the middle school and high school dropped from their acceptable ratings to a rank of priority. The middle school scored 52.6 points, down from 62.8 points in 2015, and the high school was rated with 54.1 points, down from 60.3 points in 2015. 

Messinger clarified that while the rankings were low, it didn’t necessarily mean that everything about the middle school and high school were terrible. 

“This ranking doesn’t mean that we’re not doing anything well. In fact, when I reviewed the number of schools in the middle school and high school range, I found that the number of schools identified as priority went up from last year, from 4 percent to 9 percent,” Messinger said. 

One of the major factors playing into the school’s rank are the test scores on the Iowa Assessment. A new test, called “Smarter Balance” was supposed to be approved by the Iowa Legislature. However, those plans have been put off and the Iowa Assessment testing will continue indefinitely.  Low attendance and staff retention were also factors which lowered Red Oak’s ranking on the DOE report card. 

Audience members were surprised at the high level of effect the tests had on the rankings, as they were only taken one time per year. Messinger said the overall test scores from last year were one of the biggest declines of any of the schools. 

“Did we teach differently? I don’t think so. We had the same teachers, no change in the structure. However, we took the Iowa Assessments the week after spring break. 

Is that the only reason they went down? I wouldn’t think so. But kids are creatures of habit. We took a full week of spring break, and then tested them all week. When we looked at all the factors that could have had an impact, that was the only thing that we as a staff could say was different in previous years. Only time will tell,” Messinger commented. 

Resident Charla Schmid said that these issues have been talked about for years, and she was wondering what needed to be done about it. 

“We’ve had the same discussion over and over on the school board. What about other schools that are successful in their averages. What are they doing? I know we have a great school system. Can we talk to other schools to find out what they’re doing?” Schmid asked. 

Messinger said he looked at the other schools in the conference, and those that were right above the school, and right below them in size. His research showed that schools Red Oak’s size don’t fare well in the rankings. 

‘There was one high school that was ranked in the highest category, and the second highest. Other than that, the majority were ranked in the bottom three categories with us. Pursuing engagement with other schools and the community is definitely a priority,” Messinger stated. 

Attendees were given a breakdown of the DOE report card to examine before the next advisory committee meeting, and to organize questions to bring up at the next meeting as talking points. 

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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