Each year at this time, we start thinking about the first days of school. Preparation for a new school year always creates excitement, nervous energy and anticipation.

Our teachers return Aug. 19, and our students’ make their way to the classroom Aug. 24. The summer is a time to collect, analyze and synthesize information on student achievement, examine building and facility needs, establish transportation routes, order and prepare materials and supplies and hire new staff members. This future planning ultimately provides the environment that promotes rigor and achievement for all of our students.

Key to that planning and promotion of achievement are the partnerships established with our community. The responsibility and potential role of the community in fostering the academic achievement of our youth is insurmountable. The information that follows below is important, but only in the context that we, as a community, can and will continue to work together to create and promote a culture focused on excellence.

Preliminary achievement data indicates we have made great improvements. Our students have achieved 24 of the 26 state indicators. The district’s overall rating has yet to be determined by the state and will be released later this month. We do know the high school and Wilcox Elementary School will earn an overall rating of “Excellent” this year. Liberty Elementary School may achieve that distinction, too, depending on the Value Added, or growth, measure. Again, these final state calculations have not been finalized.

The middle school rating will be “Effective” for this year. Overall, our students scored well in math. Those achievement scores at the high school level and in grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, were Excellent. Our eighth-grade math achievement scores did go up to 71 percent of our students performing at the proficient level or above. We are working toward meeting Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and math for specific groups of students. High school science and social studies performances were Excellent. Our fifth-grade science achievement showed great improvement, with our students achieving 80 percent proficiency. Eighth-grade science is an area in which we still need to improve.

One of the measures on the local report card is the Performance Index, which gauges how well students achieve across the limited, basic, proficient, accelerated and advanced categories. The higher the number, the better the performance. If the Performance Index is 90 to 99.9, the range is Effective; 100 to 120 indicate an Excellent range of performance. The district’s Performance Index was the highest we have ever achieved: 96.9. You can see we are very close to reaching the Excellent designation.

Our goal is a system focused on academic achievement with a strong, shared vision for all students. The community must be relentless in setting high expectations – that our children’s achievement matters. If we maintain that belief, our children will accept the message in earnest. The evidence lies in constant examination of student achievement data, and from our staff and parents working together as a professional learning community. We must embrace collective accountability and continue to involve and share our efforts with the community.

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