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Articles from January 2017

Our message to all students: You belong here

The Ames Community School District is working to support students and families who may be impacted by the executive orders banning immigration from certain countries. Children of international students and refugees are among our student body. 

Although it is our Board policy that children and families will not be discriminated against in our educational programming and employment practices on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, such discrimination is also contrary to our values.  Our District is among the 20 most diverse public schools in Iowa and we consider that diversity is a great source of pride and strength.

Here is our message of support to students, which includes their families.We are ames schools1


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Ames High School Drama Department presents “Guys and Dolls”

The streets of Broadway when fedoras, showgirls, and a few colorful shady characters ruled the street is is the setting for Ames High School’s production of ‘“Guys and Dolls,” a musical fable based on characters by Damon Runyon. Ames High School students are cast as characters like Nathan Detroit, who is trying to find a location for his “floating crap game”, while attempting to keep the game a secret from his lovelorn, beleaguered fiancée, Adelaide. Meanwhile, Sarah Brown’s earnest efforts to keep her mission open are distracted by a handsome, smooth-talking gambler, Sky Masterson.  

Curtain is 7:30 p.m., Feb. 10 and 11, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 12 in the Ames High School Auditorium. Admission is $10 for persons in ninth grade and older and $8 for children in eighth grade and younger.

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Word Study Team discusses second cycle of pilot materials

The Word Study Team met with the Teaching & Learning Committee on Jan. 25, 2017.  Dan Andrews, Mary Morton and Erin Miller led the discussion.

Morton reviewed the literacy pilot timeline. The second cycle of materials piloting has rolled out and went smoother than the initial rollout. Teachers expressed feeling much better about the process. Upon completion of the first round of pilot materials, each teacher independently completed the scoring rubric to reflect on their experiences with that set of materials. Then, teacher teams did a collaborative scoring on the rubric, which allowed them to have further discussion about the materials. There was also discussion about how to gain community feedback on materials. Final details are in the works at this time, including the possibility of addressing each PTO ahead of conference week, where the materials could be available for preview by parents/guardians.

Morton and Miller presented details of the Northwood pilot, which focuses on phonemic awareness and oral language. Three programs were reviewed against a hybrid rubric that was based on work from the Florida Reading Research Center and Virginia’s Preschool Rubric for Curriculum Review.  The team decided to pilot Language and Literacy (from the Handwriting Without Tears company) for purchase for the 2017-18 school year.

The 3-5 Word Study Team will be postponed until next fall. This will allow the K-2 work to inform the 3-5 work.

The Committee will consider having representatives provide a parent presentation in the evening on March 21 and having materials in buildings during conference week for parent review. The Committee also discussed the merits of providing a Teaching & Learning Committee overview.

Andrews asked if a Teacher confidence survey could be conducted again for Professional Development planning purposes.

The Committee discussed the Parent Reading Camp for struggling readers, including what parents should be looking for in terms with spelling and writing, for example, and finding decodable books.

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Jamet Colton receives 2017 Ames Humanitarian Award

Jamet Colton, who works as an Educational Assistant at Fellows Elementary School, was recognized at the recipient of the 2017 Ames Humanitarian Award during the citywide celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, on Jan. 23, 2017. The award recognizes and honors a worthy individual whose contributions to the Ames community demonstrate extraordinary quality, especially in efforts to promote diversity, inclusion and equity.

Colton, who emigrated from Chile to the United States as a young adult, was lauded for her work such as serving as a Spanish interpreter for families in the District, for volunteering as an advocate for Spanish-speaking survivors of domestic violence and organizing events in the community such as a LGBTQ inclusive community potluck and the “Call for Action Rally Against Hate and Gun Violence” in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Colton also assists parents of dyslexic children in finding resources at the local chapter of the Decoding Dyslexia Iowa support group and serves as the chairwoman of the outreach committee for the Ames Progressive Alliance.

In her acceptance speech, Colton emphasized her call to “inclusion, solidarity, acceptance, love and ambition”  using a phrase from her native Chile: “Ahora es cuando,” which, in Spanish, means “now is when.”

“Ahora es cuando — now is when you look around this room and remember the faces, and know that everyone like you here at this very moment cares and wants to make Ames, the world, a better place,” she said. “Ahora es cuando — now is when love wins.”


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Fifth graders will display inventiveness at annual Invention Convention

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This photo of a boy showing his science project is from the 2015 Invention Convention.

Fifth grade inventors in the Ames Community School District will demonstrate skills in  problem solving, engineering, creative thinking, experimentation, and working with data to invent a new product or process, at the annual Invention Convention on January 30.

Extended Learning Program teachers Mark Royer, Ariane Schmidt, and Vicki Taylor are planning the event, which is open to all district fifth graders.    

“Inventors will be judged on inventiveness, a display board, a model or prototype, a log, and an oral presentation,” Taylor said.

The young inventors, which include 57 students from fifth-grade classes across the District, will showcase 29 inventions.


  • Events will be on display for the public and judges from 4-4:45 p.m., Monday, Jan. 30, at Fellows Elementary School, 1235 20th St..
  • Around 4:50 p.m., inventors and visitors will move to the Gymnasium for a chemistry presentation by Iowa State University professor of Materials Science and Engineering Lawrence Genalo, while the judges deliberate in the display area.
  • Judges will present awards after the chemistry presentation.


Read More ranks Ames best school district in Iowa again

For the third year in a row, has ranked Ames Community School District the best school district in Iowa.

The composite ranking includes No. 1 rankings for Ames High School

The 2017 Best School Districts ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall experience of a school district. This grade takes into account key factors such as the strength of academics, quality of teachers, school resources, the quality of student life, as well as student and parent reviews, in an attempt to measure the overall excellence of the district.

At the time of calculation, NICHE’s database contained records for 12,153 school districts. School districts were not included in the ranking process if they did not have sufficient data. The final ranking results in 10,563 school districts receiving a grade, with 10,488 of those also receiving a numerical ranking.

Read more on NICHE’s methodology.

Read more in The Ames Tribune


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Ames students surpass state peers in College Readiness Report

Ames High School students are more prepared for success in postsecondary education and training than their peers in the state and the region, according to a new state website announced by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today.

The Post Secondary Readiness Report shows that 83 percent of students who graduated from Ames High School enrolled in a postsecondary institution within one year of graduation, compared to the state average of 71.1 percent and the Heartland area schools average of 72.7 percent. Ames High School students enrolled in remedial math and English courses at a lower percentage than their state and regional peers, as well. Just 10 percent of Ames High School students enrolled in remedial courses within a year of graduating from high school compared to 16.1 percent  of Heartland area students and 23.2 percent of students statewide.

Ames High School’s results exceed the Governor’s Future Ready goal for 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce to have postsecondary education or training beyond high school by 2025.

The Postsecondary Readiness Report is a collaboration among the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development and the Board of Regents. The report is based on data from 2011-12 through 2013-14. Although the findings show the majority of Ames High School students are college and career-ready based on state criteria when they graduate, the data are at least three years old, says Ames High School Principal Spence Evans, and they don’t reflect the school’s more recent changes in instruction and interventions.

“In recent years, Ames High School has launched new evidence-based instructional practices and improved its use of student achievement data to support students and close achievement gaps,” Evans said. “Teachers in Professional Learning Communities use their own observation and data from assessments to identify which students need intervention or enrichment. Besides providing Additional Instruction, the school has a built-in Plus period providing targeted assistance to students during the school day.”

Statewide and individual school results, as well as more information about the Postsecondary Readiness Reports website. The reports represent the first time the state has provided comprehensive information about student postsecondary enrollment and preparedness that can be connected to every public high school in Iowa. The web-based tool provides information on enrollment in colleges and universities, remedial course-taking rates in key content areas of reading and mathematics, and postsecondary retention and completion rates for students who graduated from public high schools in Iowa, statewide and by Iowa high school.

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