Report Card Shows Consistency for Lakota

2018-19 Report Card Shows Consistency for Lakota
Posted on 09/13/2019
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Quality Profile coverDistrict Encourages Community to Look Beyond the Letter Grades

Lakota Local Schools has earned a “B” as an overall letter grade by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) in its recently released state report card for the 2018-19 school year.

"Lakota Schools provides a future-ready, student-centered learning experience for every single child," said Superintendent Matthew Miller. “That is not only our mission statement, but what we strive to do every day. We are proud to have earned a ‘B’ as an overall letter grade. Our teachers and staff remain committed to engaging our students through personalized learning and innovative teaching.”

Miller attributes the solid performance, in part, to an increased focus on personalized learning throughout the district, including collaboration across department, and even building, lines to meet the needs of the district’s diverse learners. “We have received consistent feedback from parents and our community that there is too much emphasis put on testing,” Miller said. “We have changed our approach to teaching, focusing on educating the whole child. Yes, testing is important, but it is only one form of assessment among many,” he continued. 

The focus on personalized learning in the classroom has also led to an adjustment in professional development for teachers. “Every teacher in Lakota is committed to making learning more personalized for their students,” said Keith Koehne, executive director of curriculum and instruction. “Teachers are developing strategies and implementing new ways of teaching to keep students engaged in learning.” 

Koehne also explained that one of the benefits of personalized learning is that students choose how they learn the material and then show what they’ve learned, while still being held accountable to the standards. 

“Flexible playlists, project based learning and station rotations are just a few of the ways our teachers are putting personalized learning into action.”

In January, the district launched a new strategic plan with personalized learning as one of its pillars. “Assessment and accountability are still important to Lakota,” said Koehne. “Our strategic plan is data informed, not data driven. There are multiple data points that we consider, such as MAP testing, graduation data, preparing our students to be future ready, internships and real world learning opportunities. We want to ensure that our students are prepared to follow a path to one of the 4Es upon graduation.” 

The 4Es stand for Enrollment in higher education, Employment, Enlistment in a branch of the United States military or an academy, and Entrepreneurship. Koehne also notes that the introduction of a Portrait of a Lakota Graduate has resonated with families. Built with stakeholder input, the portrait, which is rolling out this year, is a visual reminder of the skills every Lakota graduate should possess to successfully pursue one of the 4Es.

While the district saw its Achievement grade drop slightly from a “B” to a “C”, Miller notes that it is one piece of data among many and the decline was driven by the State Indicators component. “While we have shifted our approach to educating the whole child and not just teaching for the test, the State Indicators assessment still focuses on students’ test results. It is only natural that we have a dip in this category. Our test scores should improve in a much more sustainable fashion than previous years - because we are focused on personalized learning.”

“At Lakota, we have been advocating for less of a focus on state testing and adding more ways to measure student success,” Miller continued. Just this year, Ohio has adopted new social and emotional learning standards, which three Lakota educators helped write. This is building on the Ohio Department of Education’s new strategic plan, which also focuses on educating the whole child. “We’re investing in a more balanced approach to education, which is what our community has told us they want. The introduction of all-day kindergarten, daily specials for grades K-6 and one-to-one learning in our secondary buildings are a direct result of the feedback we’ve received through community conversations and parent engagement.”

While the district received a “D” in the “Prepared for Success” metric, this year represents the first stage of a reimagined high school experience. Structured in part by the collaboration of Lakota educators, district leaders and students, more class options are available at both Lakota East and West high schools. 

By expanding zero bell class offerings, the early morning classes have seen a 30 percent increase in enrollment. The Lakota Cyber Academy, computer integrated manufacturing (a new pilot class with Butler Tech at Lakota East Freshman) and journalism at Lakota West have also been introduced.

Exposing students to real world learning opportunities remains a priority as well. “We believe it is crucial that our students have access to a variety of career options before they graduate from Lakota,” Koehne said. “We are focused on continuing to grow our internship program and business partnerships, making it accessible to every student during their junior or senior years.” 

While Lakota continues to build real world learning into its curriculum,  these types of experiences are not accounted for as part of the “Prepared for Success” grade on the state report card. Furthermore, programs like Lakota’s Career Readiness Academy - an alternative high school option that has received national attention for its success rate - do not earn the district credit in this area. 

Superintendent Miller reminds parents and community members that the state report card is only one metric of a district’s achievements. "Our students are more than just a test. This is only one measure of the education our kids receive at Lakota.” 

For a more complete picture of a Lakota education, the district has released its latest Quality Profile report. A companion piece to the state report card, the annual publication highlights current and future areas of focus for the district, including: academics, safety and security, finances, the student experience and parent/community engagement.

Click here to access the state report card for Lakota Local Schools.