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  • Back to School

    Posted by Dr. Frank Harwood, Superintendent on 8/15/2022 9:15:00 AM

    Photograph of Dr. Frank Harwood A few short weeks ago in May, we published a blog post celebrating some of our outstanding students and staff.  Here we are in August beginning a new school year and I know we will continue to witness even more examples of excellence. 

    We are fortunate that schools have brand new starts each year. Hopefully you enjoyed a great experience last year and hope to build on that success.  If things did not go as well as you expected, this is the perfect chance to start fresh.  

    It is my wish that everyone can take full advantage of the great opportunities available for students, staff and the community.  Like most things in life, school is what we make of it. What will you do with your new school year?

    Unlike schools, community growth and economic development do not start over every year, but they do go in cycles.  The announcement that Panasonic plans to make electric vehicle batteries at the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in De Soto means that our whole community will be seeing growth in the next several years.  We have always been a vibrant, growing community, but the announcement of the largest private investment in our state’s history will bring a whole new dimension of growth. 

    The $4 billion investment by Panasonic in an advanced manufacturing facility will impact not only De Soto and our district, but the entireKansas Panasonic Graphic KC Metro region.  This investment and the ones sure to follow will create tremendous opportunities for our students and community.

    Although economic growth in our community is a good thing, it does not come without challenges.   Economic development of this magnitude will most likely be accompanied by population growth.  With a current unemployment rate of around 3%, the addition of 4,000 or more jobs will require more workers in the area.

    This economic progression will lead to new families moving into the area. Enrollment growth is not new to USD 232 and continued growth has been anticipated.  Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, our district was among the fastest growing districts in the state. In our last bond issue, funding to purchase land for new schools was included.  The district has already purchased 150 acres in the southern part of the district and there are plans to acquire additional land in the central part of the district.  Although it remains to be seen what our growth will look like, it is a challenge that we can overcome.  The benefits to the future of our community will certainly outshine the challenges along the way.

    I hope you join me in embracing a new school year and the opportunities it brings. Our district and our community have had a lot to celebrate in the past and our future is even brighter.

    USD 232 Timeline Graphic

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  • Celebrations and Recognitions

    Posted by Dr. Frank Harwood, Superintendent on 5/19/2022 1:30:00 PM

    Dr. Frank HarwoodMay is a very busy time in schools.  We all recognize that the end of the school year is looming with so much left to accomplish.   

    May is also a time for recognitions and celebrations.  Our biggest celebration is high school graduation coming up on Saturday, May 21.  Graduation is a celebration of thirteen years of formal education and marks an important time in the lives of our students.  I want to congratulate all graduates of the Class of 2022 and their families.  As a district, we are honored to be part of your lives and we wish you all the best in the future. 

    We also take time at the end of the year to celebrate and honor our educators.   We held our Teachers of Excellence and Retiree celebration on Monday, May 9.  In collaboration with the De Soto Teachers’ Association, we paid tribute to sixteen Teachers of Excellence.  These individuals were recognized by their peers for their outstanding contributions to their students and colleagues.   

    We also recognized 14 USD 232 staff members for their dedication to our district as they get set for retirement.  We are very fortunate to have great staff members in every position.  One testament to the loyalty of the USD 232 staff is the fact that these 14 staff members served a total of 289 years in our district.  This is one of the many things that makes our community and district so successful. 

    KS Horizon AwardDuring the week of May 9, we celebrated the USD 232 nominees for the Kansas Horizon Award and Kansas Teacher of the Year program. Sydney Hall, a 4th grade teacher at Riverview Elementary, is our nominee for the Horizon award.  This award is given to an outstanding first year teacher.  KTOY LogoMs. Hall will go on to represent USD 232 in a regional competition next school year. Sabrina Andrews, Mize Elementary 5th grade teacher, and Andrew Elliot, Mill Creek Middle School Pathways, are the USD 232 nominees for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program.  I hope you will join me in congratulating these outstanding educators. 

     While we are celebrating and recognizing, there is one more group that I would like to mention.  We have had a Student Advisory Board (SAB) meet regularly for the last sixUSD 232 SAB 2022 Seniors years to provide input about district issues.  The board is made up of two students from each grade at both high schools with the addition of the two student council presidents.  Every year, but especially the last two years, this group has been an invaluable source of feedback about a host of issues.  As we say goodbye to our six senior SAB members, I want to thank them all, past and present, for their service to the district.  You have helped make USD 232 a better place.
     

    As the school year ends on May 24, take time to celebrate the milestones. This is a special time, but it is also bittersweet.  Although we will miss the seniors who are graduating, we look forward to the great things they will do.  I want to wish everyone a safe and restful summer. Thank you for your continued support of the USD 232 community. 

     

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  • Student Success Measures

    Posted by Dr. Frank Harwood, Superintendent on 3/31/2022 8:00:00 AM

    Photograph of Superintendent Frank HarwoodMany conversations have recently taken place about the academic performance of students, not only in our school district, but across the state of Kansas and the country. While some of these discussions included the success of students in USD 232, the primary focus centered on student performance at the state level.

    Most of our community knows the overall academic performance of our students is really quite good.  USD 232 consistently ranks among the best schools in the Kansas City metropolitan area and the state of Kansas, and regularly appears in competitive rankings at the national level. However, what does our performance as a school district mean for our students?  This article, along with more in the coming months, is intended to help families answer that question.  In this article, we address the Kansas Assessment Program. We hope you find this information helpful as your students will be taking the Kansas Assessments over the next several weeks.

    Graphic logo for Kansas Assessment Program (KAP)Kansas Assessment Program (KAP)
    A student’s performance in the KAP is expressed as a scale score. 

    Definition: A scale score is a mathematical conversion of the number of points a student earned to a predetermined scale.  In the case of KAP, the scale is from 220 to 380.   

    The purpose of a scale score is to measure student performance within a given grade level.  For this reason, it is helpful in comparing how the third grade, as a whole, performed in math this year as compared to last year’s third grade performance in math.  Although scale scores can help the district track system performance over time, they are not helpful in measuring individual student growth or comparing subject area performance as a group of students progresses through the grade levels. Link: For Families – Understanding Scale Scores, Performance Level Descriptors, and Cut Scores

    Considering Individual Students
    For individual students, the scale score is used to determine the student’s performance in one of four different levels:

    • Level 1 indicates that a student shows limited skills and knowledge needed for Postsecondary Readiness.
    • Level 2 indicates that a student shows basic skills and knowledge needed for Postsecondary Readiness.
    • Level 3 indicates that a student shows effective skills and knowledge needed for Postsecondary Readiness.
    • Level 4 indicates that a student shows excellent skills and knowledge needed for Postsecondary Readiness.

    Logo for Kansas State Department of Education

    Link: District and school report cards

    Although the level descriptions offer some explanation, they do not provide much in the way of clarity.  The Kansas Department of Education has used student data over time to help use KAP scores as a predictor of performance on the ACT College Entrance Exam.

    ACT Scoring

    To get an idea of how your high school student may perform on the ACT based on the KAP score, refer to this chart. For more information, go to ksassessments.org/act

    Student’s actual KAP grade 10 ELA score

    Student’s projected ACT reading score

    Student’s projected ACT English score

    Level 1: 220-268

    1-17

    1-16

    Level 2: 269-299

    18-23

    16-22

    Level 3: 300-333

    23-29

    22-28

    Level 4: 334-380

    29-36

    28-36

    If a student scores at level three or four, they are making progress towards reaching the ACT benchmark for college readiness. 

    Definition: The ACT benchmark is a predictor of receiving a B or higher in an introductory college course.  Students who score at level two meet grade level standards but may need additional effort or support to excel in college.  A student scoring at level one may need additional support to be successful with grade level material.

    This background is interesting, but most families are more concerned about what these scores mean for their student.  When looking at your student’s KAP report, the scale score is helpful in comparing your student’s performance to the building, district and state.  This will give you an idea of how your student is performing in comparison to their peers.  The scale score and level can give you an idea of how they are progressing towards college readiness.

    One Snapshot in Time
    One important aspect to keep in mind is that the KAP is one test on one day.  Not every student performs their best on standardized tests and everyone can have an “off day.”  Please look at other performance indicators like FastBridge, PreACT and ACT, as well as course grades.  If you have questions or concerns about your student’s performance, please reach out to their teacher or counselor.

    A District Perspective
    From the district’s perspective, we look at KAP scores for the whole district, but also by building and grade level.  We do use scale scores to track each grade level’s performance in each subject area over time.  In looking at the annual average scale scores, there has not been a significant change for any grade level or subject area.  Although we would always like to see scores improving, this trend is not alarming due to the relative high performance of our students, on average.

    We also look at the percentage of students that score in each performance category.  As a district, one measure of our academic goals is that 60-percent or more of our students score in categories three and four.  This would mean that more than 60-percent of our students are on track to earn a B or better in introductory college courses. 

    Although we want 100-percent of students scoring in categories three and four, based on past performance, 60-percent is a reasonable goal at this time.  As with scale scores, the percentage of our students who score in categories three and four is relatively high.  However, a concerning trend is that the percentage scoring a three or four decreases at each grade level.  Although this is a statewide trend, it is something that we are working to address in USD 232.

    Continuous Improvement
    Teams of teachers in each school at every grade level are studying the curricular standards to see if there needs to be an adjustment to our curriculum, resources or methods.  This will not be a quick process, but over time we will find solutions.  In the meantime, we will continue to use additional measures of student performance to help your students achieve success.  Other measures that we use are FastBridge, PreACT, ACT and the Five Year Effectiveness rating

    We will dive into these measures in future articles.  Our goal is to help parents better understand the measures of student progress we use to help improve our school system and promote individual student success.

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Podcast

  • Programming Note: This episode was recorded prior to the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.


    Episode 1 Show Notes

    Programming Note: This episode was recorded prior to the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

    A general discussion about some of the layers and resources used by the district to help with school safety and security.

    Guests

      • Rob Moser, Coordinator of Safety & Transportation
      • Officer Mo Loridon, City of Shawnee Police, School Resource Officer
      • Dr. Frank Harwood, Superintendent of Schools

    Resources