Kalona Area School Board Receives Honor for Using ACT Education Standards12/7/2009
Uses ACT's "4-3-3-3" Standard
The Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) honored three Iowa school boards as recipients of the 2009 Boards Making a Difference Awards, including the Mid-Prairie School Board. These awards, given out in November 2009 at the 64th IASB Annual Convention, are given in honor of T.E. Davidson, longtime school board member and past IASB executive director. They aim to recognize school boards for the exemplary work they do for Iowa children.
This year's winners and recipients of $1,000 each are Council Bluffs Community School District, Council Bluffs; Malvern Community School District, Malvern; and Mid-Prairie Community School District, Wellman (near Kalona).
"School boards play a vital role in the local governance process and we are delighted to recognize their work. These three boards have all taken the responsibility to learn about their roles and to move student achievement forward," said Maxine Kilcrease, executive director of IASB. "In this select group we see dropout prevention, foreign language, reading improvement and teacher collaboration initiatives, and much more. They are truly examples of how boards throughout Iowa are improving lives in schools and communities."
School boards could be self-nominated, nominated by administrators or staff members, or nominated by members of their communities.
Serving roughly 1,200 students, Mid-Prairie school board members have taken sometimes unpopular but necessary risks to improve achievement, and those risks have paid off. The district has been ranked on several top-performing lists including Newsweek's top six percent of high schools nationwide. It was also a two-time recipient of the First in the Nation in Education Award.
"The school board provides the environment and resources necessary for teachers, support staff members and administrators to do our jobs while finding appropriate ways to challenge us to do better for the students' best interests," said superintendent Mark Schneider. "'Good enough' is not in their vocabulary; no matter how good we are, we can always get better."
Board members include Jim Hussey (president), Jack Dillon (VP), Randy Billups, Jeremy Pickard, George Schaefer, Rob Stout, Stacia Bontrager (new) and Fred Lampe (no longer on the board). Douglas Slaubaugh serves as board secretary and business manager.
One thing that stood out about Mid-Prairie during the selection process was the board's push for the "4-3-3-3" graduation standards put forward by the Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce and ACT, Inc. This developed into a unique graduation standard. In addition to the 4-3-3-3 standard, students are now required to self-select whether they think they will go to a four-year college, a two-year college or the workforce directly after high school. Their curriculum is then adjusted around that decision, with students taking AP courses and two years of a foreign language, six hours of community college credit or two 90-hour internships respectively.