Much was made of an ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) report just before Christmas that made a whole lot more of schools placed on a “targeted” list than schools performing at or above state average results.

ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind, a highly flawed educational testing program passed by Congress in the George W. Bush administration. So far, ESSA seems to better fit the needs and assessments of Iowa students. But it’s likely media hasn’t shifted to report the full picture generated by ESSA.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed in 2015, is a federal K-12 education law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. The law maintains a focus on equity for all students, while giving states and local school districts much more ownership over systems of school accountability and support.

ESSA requires states to develop comprehensive plans for accountability and support, identify schools for support and improvement (Comprehensive and Targeted), and publish school report cards reflecting performance. Iowa’s system for accountability and support under ESSA was developed with broad public input, fits the state’s context and focuses on helping schools find solutions that work for them.

Iowa’s new report cards, called the Iowa School Performance Profiles, include each school’s scores on a set of accountability measures, such as state assessments. The reports display results based on a school’s overall performance, as well as the performance of subgroups of students, such as children from low-income backgrounds.

And that’s the one area targeted in the Albia Community School District at the Lincoln Center. However, the ESSA average of test scores at the Lincoln building is 53.25, compared to a state average of 54.91. The subgroup targeted was special education students. The rest of the district’s buildings had their comprehensive goals met, with scores above or near the state average.

JoEllen Breon was at the school board meeting to discuss the report. In general, Albia students are meeting proficiency standards. At the high school the average is 57.94 compared to a statewide average of 54.91. The junior high is at 52.85 compared to a state average of 54.91 and Grant school is at 53.25 compared to a 54.91 state average.

“One of the issues with the current report is the fact that we have a higher proficiency in many areas and it makes it harder to show growth compared to schools starting at a lower proficiency,” she said. “If you look at our numbers straight up, we look fabulous in many areas.”

Unlike No Child Left Behind, ESSA isn’t punitive, instead informing school districts of deficiencies and providing ways to improve. The timing of test taking and student preparation is still a big part of the picture.

Reading and math proficiency is paramount to ESSA and Albia stacks up very well up and down the line. The fact that Albia has relatively high proficiency numbers, however, causes growth numbers to be somewhat lower.

Albia high school proficiency numbers in reading are 86.45 compared to a state average of 77.04. In Centerville that proficiency score is 84.66, in Chariton 85.71, in Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 75.93, Ottumwa 73.98 and Moravia 78.35. High school math proficiency in Albia is 84.52 compared to the state average of 78.26. In Centerville 80.68, Chariton 81.14, EBF 78.52, Ottumwa 74.16 and Moravia 75.26.

Comparing junior high/middle schools, Albia’s reading proficiency is 78.36 compared to the state average of 77.04. In Centerville’s Howard Junior High 68.89, Chariton 70.12, EBF 76.19 and Ottumwa 59.48. In math Albia scored an 83.04 compared to a state average of 78.26. In Centerville 70.37, Chariton 69.72, EBF 78.26 and Ottumwa 68.03.

Elementary schools are a little more difficult to compare because different schools include different grades. Albia’s Lincoln Center is a third through sixth building and Grant is a K-2 building. Lincoln Center’s reading proficiency is 82.77 compared to a state average of 77.04. At Lakeview Elementary in Centerville the reading profiency is 78.49, in Chariton 74.03, at EBF 76.19 and in Moravia 72.28. In math proficiency Albia’s Lincoln Center is at 80.23 compared to a state average of 78.26. In Centerville 75.99, in Chariton 75.29, at EBF 78.26 and in Moravia 86.14.

In other school board business:

New assessed valuation for property taxes were released and Albia’s assessed valuation is up $12.69 million from $276.34 million last year to $289.03 million this year.

The board accepted the resignation of elementary teacher Brenda Butler, who took the early resignation bonus. She is planning to expand her dog grooming business.

Employment was approved for Phyllis Boyer, aide, Kathy Brown high school library/copy clerk, Sarah Gee, aide, Jessica Nichols, kitchen assistant, Melissa Orsini, aide, Jolene Townsend, kitchen assistant and Liz DeTar, aide.

Jeff Yenger was hired as a regular bus route driver and McKinlee Maletta was offered a six-month teaching contract. Aaron Reeves was approved as a volunteer.

The board approved the leasing of a 77 passenger school bus at a cost of $86,731.

The board tabled a memorial request for suicide prevention.

In the space study review, the board has identified providing air conditioning to the junior high school and high school along with fine arts classroom renovation as the top priorities in building improvement. The board asked Superintendent Kevin Crall to contact Piper Jaffray to study funding options before moving ahead.

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