CCS looks to improve achievement

By now, Columbus City School district staff, students, and residents have learned the results of the district’s report card.

But, after a meeting Sept. 16, district constituents know a little more about what goes into the results and how the district plans on improving those results.

During an in-depth presentation at a regular school board meeting, Jill Dannemiller, director of the district’s Title 1 program, and Dr. Michael Grote, director of the district’s staff development, explained the district’s accountability measures, School Leadership Team and All School Improvement Plan.

According to Dannemiller, there are four measures of accountability: state indicators, performance index score, value-added and Federal Adequate Yearly Progress.

Districts and schools are measured by 30 performance indicators, and must meet a certain percentage in order to meet that indicator. In the 2007-08 school year, according to Dannemiller, the district met the 10th grade reading, writing and social studies Ohio Graduation Tests, 11th grade cumulative reading and writing tests and attendance indicators.

The performance index is a calculation "based on performance levels on all tests and creates one composite score for each district and building," and include assessments in various subjects from 3rd grade to Ohio Graduation Tests. The district had a performance index score of 81.7 percent. Dannemiller pointed out that the district only had 0.1 percent of students untested.

"That’s an amazing accomplishment of the district," she said. "We do the best we can to get every student tested."

The third measure of accountability is the value-added measure, which is new and tracks the progress of the same group of children from year to year. On the district’s report card, the district achieved one year of expected growth in student progress overall.

The last measure is the Federal Adequate Yearly Progress, which aligns with the No Child Left Behind Act and determines the school or district improvement status. Aside from meeting goals in graduation and attendance for all students, the district must also meet test participation, reading, and math goals for student groups in designated races and economic standings. Out of 42 FAYP measures, the district met 36.

Grote presented information on the School Leadership Team program, which was designed with input from staff surveys and focus groups comprised of stakeholders in the district. The four goals of the SLT are increasing the quality and ownership of the district’s staff when implementing the overall ASIP; consolidating committee work within the building; expanding leadership in each building; and positively impacting the quality of instruction in the classroom.

Each SLT will have a principal, faculty representative, parent consultant, classified representative, student support team member and five or six teachers, depending on the school level. The implementation of the SLT has already taken place district wide this year, according to Grote.

The SLT involves a neighborhood school alignment, which will "align schools within a feeder pattern," Grote said. This will inform elementary school students and teachers about what is expected and what to anticipate in middle school, and likewise for middle school students and teachers before entering high school. The feeder pattern component has already begun in the district this year, but Superintendent Gene Harris doesn’t expect many goals to be set for the process this year.

"We are breaking the bonds of teaching being a private practice and making it more public," Harris said.

The other component of the SLT is the professional teaching rounds, which, Grote said, is parallel to rounds medical students make in the field. A teacher and principal team from the feeder pattern schools will go with other feeder pattern teams and observe other teachers in classrooms in order to examine the quality of teaching taking place. The professional teaching rounds teams will then provide feedback to those schools as to how to push the quality of education even further. The district has not started professional teaching rounds yet, but the district has curriculum teams that also monitor progress in every building, Grote said.

Dannemiller wrapped up the presentation by explaining the ASIP Web application, which has been released to those within the district. After it has officially been approved by curriculum administrators, access to the application will be available to the public.

The Web application brings the accountability system, the SLT and ASIP all together, and helps district administrators and staff track the schools progress and improvement in relation to state indicators.

New food services director

In other business, board members approved the hiring of Joe Brown as director of food services. Brown has a bachelor of science degree in economics from Morris University and a master’s of business administration from Franklin University. Before joining the district, Brown worked at Aramark since 1999, and was general manager of nutrition services at Grant Hospital. He also served in the U.S. Navy.

Dealing with the windstorm

Before the meeting adjourned, Harris addressed the windstorm that had hit Columbus Sept. 14, and left many district buildings without power. The district has implemented several ways to keep in touch with parents, including a phone dialer system, its Web site, customer relations line as well as participating in press conferences at City Hall.

Safety of the students is the goal of the district, Harris said, which is why the district did not have school for the first part of the week. Because the wind took out many traffic signals and felled power lines, Harris said the district worried about students walking to school.

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