Principal Kevin Zeck appeared before the Board to give an update from the
District Internal Review Committee (DIRT) at the Duneland School Board’s
meeting Monday night.
The DIRT committee
focuses on school improvement and accreditation. Other members of the
committee are Jim Goetz, Katie Curiel, Bobbi Hall, Christine Bullock,
Kristin Reed, Josh Huwig, Greg Guernsey, and Mike Megyesi.
Zeck reported the
findings of AdvancED, Inc., a non-profit, non-partisan organization that
evaluates schools and grants accreditation with a goal of improving schools.
AdvancED sent a team of six experts to conduct an evaluation on the Duneland
School Corporation between Jan. 21 and Jan. 24. Zeck reported this was the
team’s third visit to Duneland.
Zeck reported the
team uses more than 30 indicators to measure the efficacy of leadership and
learning at a school district. They do so by conducting interviews with
students, staff, and other stakeholders, visiting each building, and
observing classes. In total, the team talked to 265 people, 98 of which were
students and 34 of which were parents and other community members. They
visited 61 classrooms, spending 20 minutes in each and evaluating them with
a rubric called Eleot that features a zero to four scale for each indicator.
Zeck said the observations have a specific purpose: “They’re not evaluating
the teachers--they’re evaluating the learning that’s taking place.”
The best evaluation
a school can get for each benchmark is “exceeds expectations,” and Duneland
exceeded expectations in some areas. However, there were some aspects of
AdvancED’s criteria where the conclusion was that Duneland “needs
Zeck said the team
said “over and over again” that they were impressed with the respectful
environment at Duneland schools. Duneland earned an exceeds expectations tag
in the area of students demonstrating knowledge of classroom rules and
expectations for behavior. However, an area of improvement was also listed--AdvancED
said that while there is a respectful atmosphere, there is no comprehensive
effort on the part of the school district to promote empathy and respect.
Zeck said many of
the needs improvement tags went to areas where individual schools are
working on the goal or have even accomplished the criteria to meet or exceed
expectations, but the AdvancED team handed down a needs improvement rating
because there was no district-wide effort to accomplish the goal, or if
there was, it wasn’t collaborative or consistent enough. “We would have had
a lot more exceeds expectations if we did it by school, but it was by
district. We asked them to do it that way,” Zeck said.
earned exceeds expectations tags for resources provided to students and
policy and board leadership, specifically for attempts to engage with
Duneland got a needs improvement verdict for several of the criteria under
learning capacity and received no exceeds expectations marks. Specifically,
the criteria for “educators implement a curriculum that is based on high
expectations” earned Duneland a needs improvement tag.
Zeck said part of
the reason is that the district needs to develop a comprehensive curriculum
and develop a process of assessment to determine problems and find
solutions. In some cases the team said they saw what they wanted to see, but
they didn’t see any district level oversight of it.
Zeck went into next
steps the school corporation should take. The AdvancED team provided a list
of improvement priorities, which DSC is obligated to address. According to
the recommendations, DSC needs to work on having a district-wide
comprehensive curriculum that is consistently implemented and has a method
for self-assessment. DSC must also bring a systemic approach to creating
high expectations for students.
“Our schools are
doing great,” Zeck concluded. “Now we need to see that at the district level
and control of that at the district level to make sure it’s systemic.”