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Articles from December 2019

Better Together at Ames Middle School

Better Together

In January 2019, Yonas Michael began his current role as the head principal of Ames Middle School, a position that allowed him to return to Ames after spending time in Maryland to be with his family. Superintendent Risner entrusted him with the mission of strengthening the culture and achievement at Ames Middle School at a time of great transition in the building.

As a school leader, a top commitment is to improve student learning. But before jumping into student achievement data, examining the current culture of the building is paramount. “You can have all of the great structures in place. You can hire the best teachers, you can have the best materials and best programs, but if the culture isn’t right or healthy in the building, then none of those things are going to be successful,” said Michael. 

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Panorama School Climate Survey 2019

Panorama Data

In the spring of 2019, the Ames Community School District surveyed students, staff, and families using the Panorama Culture and Climate Survey. The survey included questions around social and emotional learning, school satisfaction, and staff and family engagement, among others. The purpose of the survey was to gather perception data from key stakeholders as a way to set a baseline for evaluation. With a baseline set, the survey results will guide goal areas based on the District’s Purpose and Priorities. 

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Equity Audit: Ames High School and Ames Middle School (2018-2019)

Equity Audit

Why this report now?

In the fall of 2016, Dr. Daniel Spikes, then a professor at Iowa State University, was asked to collaborate with the Ames Community School District (ACSD) to address racial disparities in educational outcomes. More specifically, district leadership wanted to provide professional development to its educational staff to equip them with tools to mitigate racism and racial disparities at the school. As a result, Dr. Spikes partnered with ISU professor Dr. Katy Swalwell, who also has expertise in equity-focused educator preparation. Together, they developed and implemented a three-year equity-focused professional development initiative. At the time of this equity audit, the partnership is beginning its third year. 

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Enrollment in Ames Up for the 2019-2020 School Year

Enrollment Up in Ames Graphic

Certified enrollment was finalized today. Below is a full write-up with that information, but here are some highlights first:

  • Certified enrollment is 4,477 students.
  • This is +90.5 from a year ago.
  • Open enrollment / Whole Grade Sharing / Tuition In is +330 (we were +329 a year ago)
  • The actual number of students served in buildings is 5,102.
  • This is +71 students from a year ago. 

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Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) 2019

ISASP

The Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) is the new state-wide assessment that replaced the former Iowa Assessments. Developed by Iowa Testing Programs at the University of Iowa for the state of Iowa, students in grades 3-11 took the new tests for the first time in spring 2019. School-level results were released by the Department of Education to schools, parents and other stakeholders in November 2019. 

According to the Department of Education, the “assessments are aligned with the Iowa Core standards and provide a clear and accurate assessment of student learning outcomes.” ISASP better reflects what is being taught in Iowa classrooms and how students are progressing toward grade-level expectations outlined in Iowa’s academic standards. 

Because this is a new and different test for students, results reset the baseline for student performance and should not be compared to previous years. The Department of Education also notes that because the new state test is more aligned to Iowa’s academic standards, it is more challenging. 

Student performance on the ISASP is scored in three ways: Advanced, Proficient, and Not Yet Proficient. A committee of 185 Iowa educators met for five days in July 2019 to determine recommended performance levels or cut scores, which define the range of scores for each of the three categories. English language arts and math tests were given to students in grades 3 through 11, while science tests were given in grades 5, 8 and 10. 

Results will be used to report to parents and communities, to help guide instruction, and to assist us in our school improvement planning. The test results also will be applied to Iowa’s school accountability system required under federal law. 

In Ames, 75.23% of students scored in the proficient and advanced ranges on the English language arts assessment, 75.9% in mathematics, and 65.22% in science. On the English test, the percentage of proficient students increases as students enter middle and high school. Wide disparities exist across all grade levels in the three test areas when those scores are broken down by race or students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. 

We have provided a breakdown of the data in all three tests in the PDF files below. For more information about ISASP, visit: http://iowa.pearsonaccessnext.com/

ISASP English Language Arts 2018-2019 Results

ISASP Math 2018-2019 Results

ISASP Science 2018-2019 Results

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PBIS at Edwards Elementary

 

PBIS Edwards

When students are learning how to read, add, or how to spell, we teach them. That same principle must apply to how students behave throughout the day at school. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a “philosophy intended to guide the behavioral support and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional, and academic success.” It is a school-wide framework that focuses on the positive things that students are doing. This is an examination of what that looks like at Edwards Elementary School. 

School discipline has traditionally responded to specific student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies that may include reprimands, loss of privileges, and office referrals. This approach, especially when applied inconsistently and without other positive strategies, is proven to be ineffective. With PBIS, consequences will still occur, but are not the focus; teaching expected behavior and rewarding those behaviors consistently is the focus. PBIS looks to establish a climate in which safe and appropriate behavior is the norm. 

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LC2: Little Cyclone Limited Collection

LC201 Social Graphic

When we launched the online apparel store in September, two of our goals was to be able to provide a convenient outlet to purchase Little Cyclone apparel and to build excitement around the school district’s brand. LC2: Little Cyclones Limited Collection is the next step of that commitment. 

LC2 is a limited edition collection that will offer a new design twice a year; once in the fall and once in the spring. Each design will be unlike anything else available on the store and will be a fresh and unique design. 

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All-State Music 2019

All State Music

Congratulations to the 28 Ames High musicians who were selected to participate in the 2019 Iowa All-State Music Festival. District Auditions for the 279-piece all-state band, 227-piece all-state orchestra, and 601-member all-state chorus were held on Saturday, October 26, 2019. Approximately 17% of the students who audition are selected for membership in the All-State ensembles. The 2019 Festival will celebrate the 73rd anniversary of this prestigious event and will take place on Saturday, November 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum. 

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Chad Zmolek named NFHS Iowa Boys Soccer Coach of the Year

Coach Z graphic

Long-time Ames High boys soccer coach was named the National Federation of High School (NFHS) Coaches Association’s Iowa Boys Soccer Coach of the Year. This recognition honors coaches for significant achievement in their sport throughout their careers. Nominees for boys’ sports in Iowa are selected by each sport’s respective state coaches association and is approved by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

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