October has been a busy month here in our schools! Our students have taken their initial round of MAP tests, our fall activity seasons are reaching their pinnacles, professional development activities have marched forward, and state reports have been completed and certified.
For the first time, our third- grade through 11th-grade students have taken the MAP tests. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests are computerized assessments that provide teachers detailed, useful information about the academic level of individual students. MAP tests adapt to student responses as they take the test. In other words, when a student answers a question correctly, a more challenging question follows. If a question is answered incorrectly, the next question may be at the same level or slightly simpler. Results from the tests will help us pinpoint where students are academically related to specific concepts, when they are ready to advance, and when they need additional help or support.
Our students gave excellent efforts on the tests and seemed very comfortable at the computers while testing. These tests are not as strictly timed as the Iowa tests in the past and that has relieved some pressure on students, as well. We are anxious to utilize this new tool, and we have high hopes it will make the strong impact here that it has made in many other schools.
The board is currently reviewing the district mission statement, considering input from the recent needs assessment survey, and determining what adjustments, if any, need to be made. The current mission statement is: Creston CARES – Cultivating Achievement and Responsibility while Educating all Students.
I believe this mission statement is strong, considering it is brief and serves as part of our school district brand. Some poo-poo mission statements and question their actual impact. Certain research supports that point of view. Some mission statements are actually just slogans aimed at sales, marketing and image. Of course the image of a school is extremely important and must be promoted positively. Often schools construct lengthy statements that include every stakeholder’s favorite word flavored with several trendy educational terms. Our board as a group is most concerned with student learning and hopes our mission statement supports that primary focus.
The board has also been considering annual goals for the district. This typically would have happened sooner in the year, but the transition to a new superintendent delayed this process. At this point, the board has identified the following areas of focus: student learning and achievement, school climate related to positive relationship development and anti-bullying, and technology and our best possible uses of tech and digital tools.
The school district is no longer using the former administrative office building, and the board has decided to offer the building for sale at auction in the near future. The district will then end the expense of any routine maintenance, and the facility will be placed back on the tax rolls. The property is currently zoned as a residential property, but the school was allowed special exception years ago.
The two safe rooms currently under construction at the elementary/middle school and high school are progressing nicely and may be completed as soon as the first of the year. The new space at CHS will be four large classrooms and at EMS will be a gym. Each safe room will include separate restrooms, as well. We’re excited to use the new areas!
Handrails have been installed at the CHS gym. We have garnered many positive comments about this simple, but necessary improvement. We constantly search for ways to make our facilities safer and more comfortable for everyone.
The Creston Board has invited the Prescott Board to meet, visit and tour schools sometime in November. The Prescott Board hosted the Creston Board in a similar visit last summer. The two districts currently share a business manager, teacher and superintendent. The boards are considering potential long-term options, but are in no hurry to make decisions. As we’ve seen with other neighboring districts, any eventual, major changes would require votes of the public in each district. As always, the boards are considering what may be best for local kids and their learning down the road.