APS Classified as One of Five Excellent Nebraska School Districts
The first-ever results of Nebraska’s new accountability system were released on Friday, December 4, 2015, showing that Auburn Public Schools was designated as one of Nebraska’s five excellent school districts.
Bennington Public Schools, Elkhorn Public Schools, Potter-Dix Public Schools, and Riverside Public Schools were also named as Excellent districts.
The new state system, AQuESTT (Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow), designates all public school districts and school buildings as Excellent, Great, Good, or Needs Improvement. Auburn High School and Auburn Middle School were named as Excellent buildings. Calvert Elementary was classified as a Great building.
“We have always believed our teachers and students are doing well. Receiving such a designation from an external source truly serves as a confirmation that we are on the right track,” said Dr. Nancy Fuller, Director of School Improvement and Curriculum.
According to Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt, the State Board of Education and the Nebraska Department of Education developed the AQuESTT system. The overall rating includes measures from two areas — academic and effective instructional practices.
AQuESTT focuses first on classifying schools and districts using state test scores, graduation rates, student participation rates as well as year-to-year improvement and growth –criteria that was used in the state’s past accountability system.
The second component goes even further. Under AQuESTT, district and schools are required to self-assess their practices embedded in six tenets for successful schooling. The six tenets are 1) Positive School Partnerships and Relationships and Student Success, 2) Transitions between grades and school buildings, 3) Educational Opportunities and Access, 4) College and Career Readiness, 5) Multiple Assessments, and 6) Educator Effectiveness. Each tenet is evaluated on a 0- 3 scale: Not at All – 0; Limited Extent – 1; Moderate Extent-2; and Great Extent -3.
Fuller pointed out that she hopes the different numerical scales used for the two AQuESTT components do not confuse patrons. The scale used to determine academic success for districts and buildings contains a 4-1 rating of Excellent -4, Great -3, Good -2, and Needs Improvement -1. The scale used for self-assessment of the six tenets contains a 0-3 scale.
“We see the self-assessment component as an effective tool for helping us in our school improvement efforts,” Fuller explained. For example, the Educator Effectiveness component includes an indicator for developing and implementing a new teacher evaluation model. APS teachers and administrators are currently developing a new model. However, it was not complete at the time of self-assessment, so the rating is lower than other indicators.
Kevin Reiman, Superintendent of Schools, commented on the district and buildings’ AQuESTT outcomes. “Of course, we are celebrating our high ratings. I am proud of the efforts of our students, teachers and administrators. I am also appreciative our board of education. They have been very supportive in providing the resources we need to teach our students.” Reiman further elaborated, “However, we will continue to work to improve instruction and our students’ school experience. APS is not a district that is willing to rest on its laurels. We will always work to get better.”
AQuESTT encourages schools to focus on every student every day and to build a system for continuous school improvement that supports students, educators and the school learning environment.