By Daniel Thompson
Reporter 

State of the Schools report leaves something to be desired in Kimball

 

Kimball Public Schools

Kimball Public Schools ranked near the bottom of the state in terms of state testing in the State of the School report.

Although results from the Nebraska State of Schools report indicate positive trends throughout much of the state, the numbers offer little comfort to the Kimball Public School system.

The annual Nebraska Department of Education report focuses on the results of state testing students participate in each year. In then compares and ranks schools based on the students’ scores.

According to Kimball Public Schools Superintendent Marshall Lewis, though Kimball is not quite at the bottom of the barrel, the district is far from the desired ranking.

“We are not where we want to be. Some of the rankings show that more dramatically than the test scores themselves,” Lewis said.

According to the report, Kimball Public Schools, grades three through 12, ranked 225th in reading, 235th in math and 226th in science - all near the bottom of 249 Nebraska school districts.

School officials such as Elementary Principal Mike Mitchell are not discouraged by the school’s progress and take solace in the fact that the district has not fallen below expected growth.

“If you track things, we’re staying with where the state’s going. Our improvement is lying about where the state improvement is. We just started a lot lower to start with. When we started doing NeSA, we tested down low, and they put a couple things in place at that point in time. We’ve kind of kept ground with how the rest of the state is improving. Are we where any of us would like to be? No, but we’re not losing ground to anybody else in the state,” Mitchell said.

The school district is taking steps at various levels in order to improve students’ comprehension and ability to improve on their previous test scores particularly in reading through the introduction of several new exercises at the high school level.

“I created a homeroom where they watch a current events news program every day and do reading the rest of the period every day,” said Principal Eugene Hanks. “They’re watching CNN Student News or Channel 1 so they’re getting a current events news program, and then the rest of the period they’re reading and that can be anything they like. We just don’t want them reading textbooks at that time.”


Beyond the academic aspect of the classroom, the school district is also turning focus to behavior, in hopes that decreasing behavioral issues will lead to a rise in learning.

According to Hanks, the schools are in their second year of implementing a positive behavior support program, this year focusing on consistency with how teachers treat behavior in the classroom.

“I think we’ve seen a decrease in behavior issues since we’ve started this program. That’s the goal, and I think our staff is buying into it, and we’re doing a good thing with it. It takes three to five years to fully implement it. The longer we stay with it then say five or ten years down the road we should see increased scores and decreased behavior issues,” Hanks said.

The district is also taking steps in order to help students to whom English is a second language through the use of interpreters and incorporating high school Spanish students into classes at the elementary level in order to help their progress in picking up the English language.

“We’re helping them to learn the language. We’ve taken some of the Spanish kids at the high school and taken them down to the elementary school and tried to incorporate different things with those kids. We also have a preschool on campus, and our teacher has gone and got some ELL training. We hired an interpreter to put in there so I think we’re really trying to target those early learners and getting them to where they need to be,” said Kimball Special Services Director Jamie Golding.

School officials are excited about the opportunity these statistics offer the district, as they attempt to address the shortcomings detailed by the report.

“Instead of a shotgun approach where we do a whole bunch of different things and some might work and some might not, it’s making us use the data to drive our decision-making,” said Hanks.

 

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