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CCA Supt. gives mostly positive progress report

OXFORD — Each year, school districts are required by the Department of Education to submit a progress report covering such topics as student achievement, enrollment, and finances.
Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Superintendent Dr. Paula Vincent gave a greatly condensed version of selected highlights during the Sept. 16 school board meeting. Vincent noted the State of Iowa would review the full report, and make recommendations for any deficiencies with a timeline for improvements if warranted.
The data Vincent presented, and the report she will be submitting, is from the 2008-2009 academic year with noted exceptions.
From a demographic standpoint, and using 2007-2008 data, 20 percent of the students live in poverty, while the state is at 32 percent. The district has a minority enrollment of 6.3 percent compared to 13.4 percent for Iowa. CCA is about even with the state in the percentage of students receiving special education, with 13.2 percent of its students in this category; the state of Iowa was at 13.3 percent.
CCA’s graduation rates are better than the state’s average, at 99.16 percent in 2007, compared to the state total of only 90.49 percent.
While she was very pleased to have a 99 percent graduation rate, Dr. Vincent quickly added it could always be better.
“I am always personally disappointed when the graduation rate isn’t 100 percent.”
Enrollment has steadily increased in the district this decade. Certified enrollment trends showed the district at just under 1,200 students in 2001, with increases every year to just under 1,500 students for 2009. Actual attendance puts the 2009 enrollment at 1,581 students.
Vincent was pleased with fourth grade reading proficiency for the 2006-2008 biennium period. CCA showed 82.23 percent proficient, which was better than the state’s 78.87 percent.
“I’m willing to call this a trend,” Vincent said, pointing to the hard work of students, parents, and staff. “It continues to be a challenge, but this is one (result) we can all be proud of.”
Vincent noted only five years ago, the district’s fourth-graders were below the state average.
She called a 77.31 percent reading proficiency for eighth-graders a victory not only because the state’s average is only 72.53 percent, but because again going back only five years, CCA ranked in the 60 percent range.
CCA fourth-graders also improved in math, with 83.76 percent proficiency to the state average of 80.78 percent.
“It’s very exciting,” Vincent said. She attributed the improvement to teacher learning time and help from the Grant Wood Area Education Agency. She also credited her teachers directly.
“They’re not going to give up. The hard work is starting to really pay off.”
During the 2006-2008 biennium, CCA juniors showed 84.5 percent proficiency, surpassing the state average of only 78.36 percent. In reading the juniors slipped below the state average, with only 75 percent proficient to the state’s 77 percent. Vincent still sees a positive occurrence however, noting the juniors were “barely above 50 percent” proficiency five years ago.
The Iowa Test of Educational Development paints a slightly different picture for reading comprehension among the junior classes.
In 2007, CCA was higher than the national average of only 60 percent, showing a 74 percent proficiency, but the state average was over 75 percent.
In 2008, CCA juniors improved to 75 percent, while the state average also improved to 76.45 percent and the national stayed at 60 percent.
2009 data is showing CCA juniors jumping to 80 percent proficiency in reading comprehension, a full 20 percent higher than the national average and above the state average, which dropped slightly to almost 76 percent.
However, it should be noted, these figures represent a snapshot of the academic assessments and do not reflect the entire report.
“I always have mixed feelings when I see these,” Vincent said, adding on the one hand she wonders if the district can keep up the good work. On the other hand, “I’m very proud of our achievements,” Vincent said. She noted that “from the bus driver on up, it’s a sustained effort” on the part of all who interact with the students.
Out-going board president Dan Schaapveld offered his own assessment of the numbers presented. Schaapveld sees more involvement on the part of the parents as one of the factors leading to the improvements seen. He also urged them to continue to be involved.
The president singled out special praise for Dr. Vincent.
“If you have the right captain of the ship, it goes in the right direction. We have the best superintendent in the area. I don’t give a s*** what people think. If you don’t agree, give me a call.”
He added student achievement is the underlying goal, and “it’s paying off.”