The Wahoo Public School District earns an AQuESTT Classification of 'Excellent'
District named among Nebraska's 28 'top districts' in latest state assessments
The Wahoo Public Schools is one of 28 districts across the state to achieve a classification of 'EXCELLENT,' and will look to build upon this positive momentum in the coming school years.
“This classification is a reflection of our school district as a whole. Students, staff, and patrons all play a very important role in creating these fantastic results,” commented Wahoo Middle School Principal Marc Kaminski.
Each year, the Nebraska Department of Education classifies school districts and schools across the state as Excellent, Great, Good or Needs Improvement. Classifications are based on the Accountability for a Quality Education System (AQuESTT) classification criteria. The AQuESTT system is designed to measure student performance in more ways than via student performance on statewide assessments. For the 2017-18 school year, the Wahoo Public Schools District, as a whole, moved from an AQuESTT classification of “Great” to “Excellent,” and each of the three schools maintained their classification of “Great.”
AQuESTT classifications are centered around six core tenets:
1) Positive Partnerships, Relationships, and Success
3) Educational Opportunities and Access
4) College, Career and Civic Ready
6) Educator Effectiveness
The Wahoo Public Schools emphasizes an environment for teaching and learning that is centered on growth and continuous improvement. We are committed to:
• Equipping our students for the 21st Century
• Providing opportunities for students to realize their full potential
• Creating engaged citizens
• Collaborating with the greater Wahoo community
We are focusing our continuous improvement efforts on five key action steps:
1) Providing high quality instruction that ensures academic growth for every student
2) Providing high quality curriculum that supports instructional goals
3) Utilizing high quality assessments and data collection tools to support student learning
4) Providing professional development and support which promote student learning
5) Providing an environment that promotes safety and a positive culture
When discussing the curriculum evaluation and renewal process, District Superintendent Brandon Lavaley shared, “The District actively and continuously evaluates curriculum, taking into account direction from the Department of Education pertaining to minimum standards of instruction. The process includes input from classroom teachers and administration before presenting any recommendations to the Board of Education.”
“As systems change, school districts continue to reflect upon current practices, analyze their current reality, and carry out decisions that will impact student performance and college/career readiness in positive ways," said WPS Director of Learning Dr. Josh Snyder. "If parents are seeking out specific information regarding their son or daughter’s progress toward grade-level standards, their teacher continues to be the best source of information.”
The WPS continuous improvement and professional development process emphasizes both student and staff growth, and takes into account multiple data points when evaluating the school system as a whole. While state assessment results are one measure of achievement, WPS also evaluates student growth and performance on local assessments and NWEA-MAP Growth measures. These assessments are specifically aligned to state standards and the essential learnings at each grade level/content area.
WPS prides itself on the partnership between staff and administration in working collaboratively to identify strengths and areas of improvement throughout the core instructional model. The district employs a process where both grade levels (elementary) and content areas (middle/high school) develop a SMART goal that relates directly to the data within their area. Once per month staff members participate in an early dismissal schedule that is focused on professional development, reflecting upon and analyzing current performance in their grade-level and/or content area. The Professional Learning Community (PLC) model is used to guide these meetings, which focus on doing what is best for our learners, through identifying strengths and areas of improvement and identifying support (capital and human resources) that may be needed to address the issue.
Math and Science at Elementary (Outscored the state average at these content areas on state assessments)
Math, English Language Arts (ELA) and Science at Middle School (Outscored the state average at these content areas on state assessments)
Math, English Language Arts (ELA) and Science at High School (Outscored the state average at these content areas on state assessments)
We will begin to know more within the next few years as the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) is fully implemented and students and staff become more fluent with the College and Career Readiness State Standards being adopted at each content area. WPS fully anticipate our achievement results to further improve as our professional development and PLC work identifies our strengths and areas of improvement.
District Areas of Improvement
Dr. Snyder shared several ways the district is currently working to maintain its focus on continuous improvement.
“The district has focused on improving our English Language Arts program during the past two years. In the 2017-18 school year, the elementary school adopted a new reading curriculum (Journeys). When a district adopts a new curriculum, there can be what is defined as an 'implementation dip.' This occurs when staff members move away from a structure and plan they have been familiar with for numerous years to a largely new structure and way of doing things," Snyder said. "We are continuing to support the implementation of new reading materials through intentional professional development opportunities, staff input and a focus on data informed decision-making. Staff and administration are focusing on specific instructional routines/strategies and student growth during weekly Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings."
Snyder added, "the high school ELA staff members are currently participating in Text Dependent Analysis work, and have done work in their content area PLC to align current instructional activities to the ACT readiness benchmarks. This work will yield benefits as we move forward as a department with K-12 vertical alignment, assuring ample opportunities for students to master the essential content and skills that will lead to success at the next grade level.”
The development and improvement of instructional routines is an ongoing process that takes commitment from all K-12 staff within all content areas. This process further is influenced by changes in state standards, which we have experienced in the past several years (ELA and Math), and will experience shortly in Science and Social Studies.
“While these changes can bring about challenges, the staff members at WPS are fully committed to the ongoing Continuous Improvement Process and are fully invested in the vision of 'Inspiring Our Students to Thrive!,'" Dr. Snyder concluded.