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Glenwood City school board hears school learning outcomes and professional practice goals

By Cara L. Dempski

GLENWOOD CITY — Teachers and administrators in the Glenwood City school district create school learning outcomes and professional practice goals each year as a way to measure their success as educators.

At the October 23 school board meeting, Nicole Brite, Betsy Haltinner and Patrick Gretzlock presented their SLOs and PPGs for this year.

Brite, the Director of Athletics, Pupil Services, and Special Education, said she wanted to diverge from her 2016-2017 outcome of closing the achievement gap for students in the special education program.

The specific outcome relied heavily on results from state assessments, which present skewed information, especially for students who may feel the effects of things happening outside of school during the test period.

She realized the special education staff cannot control those outside factors, and instead chose to change her focus slightly for 2017-2018.

“I talked to my special ed staff, and we had conversations over what we can do, what we have control over,” Brite explained. “How can we still move kids forward without putting everything into assessments we don’t have control over?”

In the end, the special education instructors identified two or three students they wanted to spend more time working with over the course of the year. The focus will not be improving assessment scores, but using IEPs to make sure students are showing improvement on the listed goals and receiving valid instruction.

The professional practice goal tied to this outcome was a simple one: meet once monthly as a department to discuss all the students assisted by the special education department.

Elementary principal Betsy Haltinner previously focused on moving the children with the lowest achievement scores to the upper levels, though last year she gave her attention to moving the students in the middle to the highest level.

This year, she recognized a need to change her approach.

“I need to grab something for my SLOs that I have more control over,” she said. “The student performance, teachers have more control over that because they are in the classroom. As an administrator, I have more control over what the teachers do.”

Haltinner also realized the single greatest component of student success is the teacher in the classroom. With that in mind, she developed a school learning outcome focused on instruction.

She plans to use the plan/teach/reflect framework and engage teachers in professional dialog and reflection to advance instruction.

This leads to the question “how can teacher reflection help move students toward higher achievement??”

The GCE principal will look at teacher performance through awareness of instructional reality. This includes asking how teachers feel about what goes on in the classroom, knowing the specifics of what is happening, acting with intent, accurately assessing learning, and demonstrating an ability to adjust as necessary to help students.

She plans to meet with each teacher several times during the school year to talk about planning, teaching, and reflecting, about the things they have noticed in classrooms, and the evidence backing up observations.

The outcome will serve as an advanced study of Haltinner’s ability to have conversations about practice.

Middle and High School principal Patrick Gretzlock has focused on reducing the number of students with failing grades the past few years.

This year, his outcome is to reduce the number of students with failing grades in multiple classes to less than 40 percent.

“We’re pretty consistently reducing the number of students who have failures from one semester to the next,” Gretzlock noted.

While he knows he does not yet have the hard data he needs for the first test of his study, he is anticipating the release of grades for the first quarter of the school year. He does, however, receive grade reports every Monday and Wednesday to see if things are trending in a positive direction.

The outcome is based solely on in-house performance, and focuses on grading learning instead of behaviors, actions, and responsibilities.

With that in mind, his professional goal this year is to create strong relationships at school between students and teachers, students and other students, and even students and the facilities. He theorizes strong relationships with students means better student performance.

Other business

Prior to the three administrators presenting their SLOs and PPGs for this year, the board heard a presentation from senior Emma Scholler about her FCCLA scholarship trip to Japan this past summer.

After hearing the administrative reports, the board unanimously approved the purchase of a Bobcat utility vehicle with attachments, and the proposed 2017-2018 all-fund tax levy of $2,465,556.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the resignation of paraprofessional Kristina Monson.

• Approved youth options coursework for Spencer Oehlke.

• Approved Lisa Berends, Rachel Albrecht, Karry Motz, Rebecca Jones, Julie Anderson, Dina Unser, Laura A. Lee and Jessica Olson as Destination Imagination volunteers.

The board then adjourned to closed session to discuss administrative team member performance reviews and administrative staffing. Superintendent Tim Johnson later stated no action was taken during the session.