School district invests in consulting service to evaluate results
Although Churchill County School District’s report card was released earlier this year, the district also prefers to use another source to showcase the improvements and success in Fallon schools.
Superintendent Sandra Sheldon said the district has been referencing results from the Educational Effectiveness Survey by The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE), rather than the Nevada Department of Education’s 2016-17 Report Card, as it allows district faculty, students, and parents to submit their opinion through its survey, and compare answers to high performing and nationwide schools.
Sheldon said she’s been utilizing CEE for at least 15 years in school districts, and Churchill County School District spent $6,050 to conduct the surveys.
In Churchill County, 70 percent of licensed staff in the district participated in the survey, the majority from the high school. Sheldon said CEE representatives were “blown away” by the district’s results, as participation and scores increased compared to last academic year.
“We like to obtain perception data from the school and the community,” Sheldon said. “Not only does it increase involvement and engagement, but it allows us to see the actual performance based on survey results.”
The CEE’s survey is designed to stimulate and inform conversations for improvement including attributes for instructional practice, effective organizations and trust, and culturally responsive teaching, while the Department of Education’s report card shows data of the district’s graduation, attendance, drop-out, testing, and bullying rates.
To learn more about the district, and the community’s voice versus NDOE, a comparison of both reports are shared.
ATTENDANCE IS GOOD — BUT ARE MATH TESTS HALTING STUDENTS?
According to the NDOE’s Report Card, there are 3,196 students enrolled within six schools of the district. With that, 94 percent of students of all grades attend class on a daily basis.
But drop-out rates are incredibly low; 2.3 percent of students drop out by eighth grade and numbers are even lower reaching to 12th grade and the average ACT composite is 17.62 percent.
The NDOE shows 39 percent of Churchill’s elementary school’s are slightly more proficient in reading, compared to 37 percent at the middle school, based off the Criterion Referenced Test with the new state standards.
But it could be math tests holding students back; 34 percent of elementary students in the district are more proficient in math compared to the middle school, at 17 percent. The report also shows 41 percent of students in the district overall are performing in the lowest range of achievement at 41 percent, compared to the state at 36 percent.
Students struggle the most with Math II at Churchill County High School, showing 65 percent of students not meeting state standards.
Although the CEE doesn’t gather graduation, testing, and dropout rates, it compiles answers students, teachers, and staff chosen in the questionnaire, to determine the quality of the curriculum, instruction, and assessment in their schools.
That reports shows about 80 percent of survey participants in the district are confident in its curriculum and instruction.
However, only 28 percent of teachers believe all students can meet state standards, according to the report, although 50 percent believe schools are providing curriculum that is relevant and supportive to instructional outcomes. The CEE survey shows, according to the survey’s participants, 36 percent of students are engaged in learning.
As a way to enhance math skills and move forward with a new generation of teaching, the school district’s board trustees also approved the Career and Technical Education exploratory class for eighth graders at Churchill County Middle School, and are in the process of hiring teachers throughout the district specialized in the field during national career fairs.
Sheldon said the district has a direct instruction with teachers and students to promote a personalized learning environment. She also said teachers are looking into individual instruction to help students achieve goals.
“The MAP assessments are moving students from lower levels to more proficient levels,” she said. “But every student is on their own path and it’s our goal to help and push them to succeed.”
SCHOOL GROUND ENVIRONMENT
Compared to the CEE survey, it asks participants their views on their school’s characteristics, such as effective leadership, cultural responsiveness, and communication among many.
Participants’ responses within the district are compared to high improving and performing schools, and nationwide schools. According to the survey, Churchill County has a more positive comparison than most nationwide schools and high performing schools; 85 percent of participants feel there is a positive, clear and shared focus within the district, followed by cultural responsiveness, leadership, and curriculum assessment. Other schools nationwide that only participate in the CEE survey voted 60 percent or lower in these categories.
Categories in District Support for Improvement, Professional Development Focus, and High Standards and Expectations scored 73 percent or lower, but scored higher compared to districts nationwide that also use CEE.
The NDOE Report Card also shows the district had 22 reported bullying incidents. Majority of the incidents involved violence to students, with 114 incidents, compiled from Numa Elementary School, Churchill County Middle and High School.
However, about 93 to 95 percent of students and teachers in the district participated in the Supportive Learning Environment section in the CEE survey; the survey shows 55 percent of staff voted the schools are enforcing bullying and harassment policies, while 44 percent believe students feel their school is a safe place.
Comparing other nearby counties to Churchill, the NDOE report shows the county has one of the lowest number of incidents reported, compared to Carson City with 39, Lander with 41, and Lyon with 92 reports.
However, compared to those counties, Churchill has the highest rank in number of violence against other students; Carson, Lander, and Lyon are all below 100 in rank of violence against other students.
When it comes to student safety, there’s parent-teacher involvement, which both reports show sufficient results in cooperation. In the NDOE, more than 90 percent of parents of children in each of Fallon’s elementary schools attended conferences.
The CEE presents more specific results, as 89 percent of teachers voted the district encourages community and parent involvement.