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Schools issued report cards

IOWA CITY– The comprehensive school improvement planning (CSIP) committee and district officials sat down last week to review some of the accomplishments and direction of the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD).
Director of curriculum Pam Ehly shared the results of the Iowa Assessment, the test that replaced the Iowa Test of Basic Standards (ITBS) and the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED). Ehly said the district would be sending information about the changes in the new tests.
ICCSD continues to roll up some of the biggest test achievement numbers in the state, and students are testing well above the national average in most grades and subjects.
The problem areas discussed at the April 3 meeting were in fourth and fifth grade math computation where students fell below the 50 percent line of the national standards.
The schools will use the data to guide improvement plans and set goals.
Through PowerSchool, the on-line school software, teachers will also be able to use data from the Iowa Assessment to look at their classroom and find what Ehly called strengths and limitations of their teaching.
Parents, teachers and students use the web-based PowerSchool system to view up-to-date student information.
Because the Iowa Assessment and other tests represent a random sampling of knowledge in response to specific questions, “if we ever make a high level decision, it’s because of a convergence of data,” said Ehly.
The state of Iowa submitted a petition to waive the requirements of No Child Left Behind legislation on Feb. 20. If the waiver is granted, sanctions and punishments for local schools will disappear, open enrollment will no longer be automatic and the tutoring option in title schools will no longer be required.
Eleven states have been granted waivers to NCLB. Iowa will hear back in May on its waiver application.
Community Relations director Kate Moreland presented an 11-minute informational video about the district and some of the updated promotional materials the schools will use to welcome new families. The video and a welcome booklet were underwritten by the Iowa City Association of Realtors and the non-profit Iowa City Community School District Foundation. Welcome booklets will be sold to realtors for use in selling the community schools to homebuyers.
District superintendent Stephen Murley noted that each school now has its own one-page informational sheet and the district is trying to steer the realtors toward the new school website to aid parents looking for a new school.
Murley also talked up the schools’ “Operations Report Card,” available at the district website. The report will be updated monthly to reflect progress in implementing some of the suggestions from the Synesi report, a district-wide external audit that was performed by Synesi Associates, a Wilmette, Ill. firm.
He indicated many of the recommendations from Synesi were quick fixes and the schools are already crossing some of their list.
Murley predicted that most of the “quick wins and major concerns” noted in the Synesi report would be addressed by the end of the 2012 calendar year.
By the end of the 2013 academic year, the schools will move to a progress report.
Murley said that one of the biggest items in the Synesi audit was setting up an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software in several departments. He said ERP installation was a big undertaking and the process would require 18 months.
Another CSIP meeting will be set for late May or early June.