School Board Approves $9,000 Comprehensive School Assessment
Oskaloosa, Iowa – On Monday night, the Oskaloosa School Board approved a $9,000 comprehensive school improvement assessment that will be conducted by the Iowa Association of School Boards.
The assessment passed on a four-to-one vote. It will evaluate how the school district can improve. Vice President Tom Richardson voted “no.” School board members Nik Rule and Charlie Comfort did not attend the meeting
The board received an hour-long Skype (video call) presentation by IASB representative Tony VanderZyl. VanderZyl talked about the assessment and explained how it will evaluate the Oskaloosa Community School District. The assessment looks at the following:
- Role of the board/school leadership
- Indicators of student achievement
- Establishing rigorous standards, assessments, and instruction
- Classroom instruction (evaluate whether students are actively engaged)
- School curriculum
VanderZyl said it’s important for the school district to have a sense of urgency to improve. President Carl Drost asked how the IASB presents the report, specifically asking whether the IASB “sugarcoats” the report.
“The data are what the data are, and we will show you the data. We will not change them, alter them, hide them, and we will do our best job to tell you what we think the data tell you. Where they identify strengths for Oskaloosa, and where they identify areas of need,” VanderZyl said.
Rule, who did not attend the meeting, asked Drost to read a statement in favor of conducting the assessment.
“In my mind, I think we have a great team of people here in (the) Oskaloosa School District that can accomplish great things for our kids. In order to provide the most excellent education for students, I think this self-assessment is necessary,” Rule said in a statement. “I firmly believe that no one should feel intimidated by what the IASB might find, but more so enthusiastic about learning what as a district we need to focus on to be even better.”
Richardson, who voted against the assessment, said he believes the IASB does a great job, but explained one of his concerns.
“One concern I do have is that so much of the curriculum that all public schools teach is mandated by the state. And I think we have the information that shows we’re following all the mandates by the state of Iowa. Perhaps this is something that could bring up some points that we’re not aware of, perhaps it’s going to be a case where we get a report back that we’re doing everything that’s required,” Richardson said.
Superintendent Russ Reiter said the money for the assessment “is in the budget.”
VanderZyl said the assessment will take eight to 10 weeks to conduct, but Reiter said he hopes the assessment can be completed in eight weeks, or six to eight weeks if possible.
Following the discussion on the assessment, the board also discussed its goals. Each board member read its goals and submitted them to Reiter. Reiter will compile the goals to come up with a comprehensive list of the board goals.
The next school board meeting is on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.