R-IV district honored for performance

Friday, January 2, 2009

For the second time in the last three years, the Cassville R-IV School District has been recognized with a Distinction in Performance Award from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"This is one of the honors that we look forward to receiving the most," said Superintendent Jim Orrell. "It tells the most about the performance of our student body. It serves as a report card for the district and tells the most about how we are doing."

The Distinction in Performance Award is based on the 14 academic performance standards that are used in accreditation of all public school districts, including Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test scores, ACT performance and graduation rates.

"I'm very proud of our staff and student body to be able to achieve 14 of 14 performance standards and make the district eligible to receive this award," said Orrell. "It is a much better indicator of how we are doing than No Child Left Behind."

Last year, the R-IV School District focused on several programs to help improve student performance and achievement.

"We tried to do several things," said Richard Asbill, educational programs director. "We looked at the state reports from the last couple of years and determined the areas that we needed to address and score higher in. We used that information in our improvement plan to establish specific goals."

At the primary and intermediate school levels, the district updated reading and math intervention programs in order to align the programs with specific Missouri standards.

"The intervention programs were also made more teacher specific," said Asbill. "Each teacher was asked to look at the class and student performance and ask, 'What can I do, the grade level do or others do to get these students where they need to be?'"

Faculty members were directed to consult with their fellow teachers to determine how they could assist each other in best educating each student. Information and ideas were shared at monthly collaboration meetings.

"In the high school we have a different set of standards," said Asbill. "We had to take a more global approach because we are evaluated not only on MAP scores but on things like graduation rates, ACT performance and vocational completion and success rates.

"We had to look at how we meet high school students' needs and how we can get them to graduation and help them pursue education after graduation," said Asbill. "We wanted to make sure we maintained our test scores while doing an even better job of meeting their needs."

The district focused on progress monitoring and utilized the High Schools That Work program to provide students will tutoring assistance.

"We are doing progress monitoring for all students on an ongoing basis instead of once a quarter," said Asbill. "This is done through a computer-based grade book. Students who are succeeding have an opportunity to opt out of the assistance program with reward time."

Cassville High School Principal Brad Hanson and Assistant Principal Terry Jamieson ensure faculty members keep grade books up-to-date, which also gives parents an opportunity to monitor their student's progress through the district's web-based Parent Link System.

"Parents can see an accurate picture of their child's progress through the system," said Asbill. "This allows us to have a good team approach to helping students stay on track to graduation and be successful after graduation."

Parents concerned about their child's progress are encouraged to set up a conference time to discuss the student's performance with a teacher. Parents can also discuss a student's performance with Hanson or Jamieson.

"We feel it is important for parents to know that although we have specific parent-teacher conference times we can schedule conferences as often as the parent would like," said Asbill. "Our principals and counselors are also always available to discuss progress."

Many Cassville High School parents currently use the Parent Link System as a monitoring tool for their student's performance, said Asbill.

"We have a group of teachers working hard everyday to make Cassville R-IV students and the district better," said Asbill. "We also have a community and parents who are very supportive of the school district. That makes it a lot easier for the district to meet state and federal standards. We are really fortunate to have the teachers, parents and community that we do."

The Shell Knob School District also received a Distinction in Performance Award this year. This is the third consecutive year that the kindergarten through eighth grade school district has received the prestigious award.

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