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October School Report
by Superintendant Steve Hanson · November 06, 2013


In July, a newsletter was sent to every residence in our school district; it contained a report of our student achievement scores for 2012-13. In August, the Local School Improvement Advisory Council, comprising parents and staff members, met to review our school district achievement scores, disaggregated for various subgroups, and to discuss the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report, a communication from the state of Iowa that confirmed that our district had not met all our goals, thus making us a District in Need of Assistance (DINA). Our district met the goals for participation in the assessments, as well as for attendance rate and graduation rate. During the past two months, the Building Leadership Team from the elementary school has been meeting with consultants from AEA 9 to craft an improvement plan, which must be submitted to the Department of Education by November 1.

It is our expectation that each student will show sufficient achievement growth on a yearly basis. In 2011-12, we implemented the practice of writing academic improvement plans for each individual student who was not yet proficient. We will continue this practice, which involves designing interventions implemented during the school day to help each individual close gaps and meet his/her learning goals. Curriculum alignment is another aspect of our improvement efforts. Through item analysis, we have identified the content standards for which our students’ scores showed the greatest discrepancy from what was expected, and our teachers are making adjustments to their pacing calendars (what they teach and when they teach it).

Parent engagement is an extremely important factor for student achievement. If you engage your son(s)/daughter(s)/grandchildren in conversations about what they are learning in school, and provide support so they can complete their work in a timely manner, you are performing the most important role of a parent. Excellent resources can be found at www.iowaparents.org.

-All students completed reading assessments (DRA or SRI) during the first few weeks of the current school year, so that we can know where each student stands and who needs more intervention to reach proficiency. We will administer these reading assessments again at the end of the school year to measure growth.

-The average ACT scores for last year’s seniors at WLHS met the state averages for English, Reading and Science; they did not reach the state average for math or for the composite score. Compare scores for the last five years in the table below.

-Our annual Run for the Schools was held on October 12. The weather was great and the turnout was good. Thank you for your support of this event. Proceeds this year will be used to help fund some of our technology needs in the school district.

-The district Wellness Committee has begun to meet. Their primary task this year is to research the policies of various school districts in relation to peanuts and peanut products at school, and outline the steps necessary to make our district a “peanut aware” school district.

Our school district annual financial report to the- Iowa Department of Education was submitted on September 16. For the second year in a row, our revenue was more than our expenditures. The solvency ratio crossed over from the red into the black. The annual financial audit was conducted on September 23 & 24. The auditor presented an oral summary; a follow-up written report will be prepared and delivered in a few months.

-Teachers new to WLCSD this year include Briana Simon (pre-kindergarten), Megan Silva (kindergarten, dual language), Dania Bebber (1st grade, dual language), Robin Evans (elementary Music), Kristina Murphy (K-4 Counselor), Stephen Smith (elementary Art), Brooke Thomas (elementary Reading Specialist), Ashley Smith (Band), Kelly Butcher (middle and high school Librarian), and Betsy Hood (high school Family & Consumer Sciences).

Many thanks to Jackie Henderson and her 6th grade students for the Comet T-shirt drive they organized for Homecoming Week. Over 120 shirts were collected and distributed to students who had requested them. What a great example of recycling, and helping students who might not otherwise have ever been able to acquire a Comet shirt.

-The WLHS Comet Marching Band earned a Division I rating at the Iowa High School Music Association (IHSMA) State Contest. Congratulations to Marching Band Director Ashley Smith, to the Music Boosters, and to the students for this distinction they worked so hard to achieve. At the All-State vocal music auditions, Mikayla Ward earned a “recall” for a second audition. Although in the end she was not selected for All State, it is a great honor to receive a second audition, especially in such a tough district that includes Iowa City High, West High, Davenport schools, and other large schools. This is the first time in fifteen years that a vocal student from WLHS has earned a recall. Reghan McNaul finished in 6th place at the district cross country meet, qualifying her for the state meet! Congratulations to WLHS student Randy Tapia, who has been selected to serve as a page for the upcoming assembly of the Iowa legislature.

-Don’t miss the musical Shrek, which high school students will present on November 7-9 at the high school auditorium. Get your tickets at the main office at the high school. The schedules for all activities are available at www.rivervalleyconference.org. To set up automatic notifications of changes in the activities schedule, or to receive reminders, go to www.rivervalleyconference.org, click on “West Liberty” and then “Notify me!"

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