By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
New state accountability results released last week showed that more than half of all Nebraska public schools were classified as excellent or great.
The purpose of AQuESTT, Accountability for a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow, is to support and reward continuous improvement for every student, school and educator.
AQuESTT ranks schools as excellent, great, good and needs support for improvement.
Of the 1,130 public schools, 147 were classified as excellent, 473 were classified as great, 423 were classified as good and 87 were designated as in need of improvement.
Three schools from the 87 schools were designated as priority schools. Those schools are Druid Hill Elementary in the Omaha Public Schools; Loup County Elementary in the Loup County Public Schools; and Santee Middle School in the Santee Community Schools.
Those schools will collaborate with a Support and Intervention Team to identify and guide school improvement efforts.
Chase County Schools (CCS) as a whole district was rated good, as was Chase County High School. Chase County Elementary School was rated great.
The ratings are based on the 2014-15 NeSA (Nebraska State Accountability) scores, improvement or drop in those scores, graduation rate and percentage of students participating in the NeSA tests.
“I feel that (great, good) is probably where we are at right now,” said Supt. Joey Lefdal.
“I believe the way we make the jump to the next level is really putting forth an effort into a better Response to Intervention process. Not allowing kids to fail is the only option,” he said.
Lefdal said that when he saw AQuESTT’s four classifications, “I kind of laugh because the state wanted to move away from ranking us from one to 246, but really they are still ranking us. It is just a smaller scale from one to four.
“It still shows the same thing, which ones are at the top and which ones are at the bottom,” he said.
Lefdal said administration and staff are currently discussing “Essential Standards.”
“What is it that every kid needs to know to move to the next grade? What do they need to be a successful adult, to make it in college, to make it in the work force,” he asked, “then don’t let them down by pushing them through without knowing it.”
Lefdal said “teach, teach and then reteach it until they get it.”
He said he believes CCS is currently making some fundamental changes in the district that will have long-term positive changes for students.