What means the most to teachers?
The look of accomplishment on the face of a student who's met a goal.
The entire staff and student population of Dodge City High School just met a goal and the faculty celebrated during in-service meetings early this week.
"We had ice cream sundaes for the staff," Jacque Feist said in an interview at the school Thursday. "So they knew something was up but they didn't know what. When I told them we had met our AYP goals, the room burst into spontaneous applause — it was like we'd won a big football game."
AYP — Adequate Yearly Progress — is an evaluation process created by the federal legislation that enacted No Child Left Behind, signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2002.
"The process changed how we 'play school,'" Feist said.
"It moved us from thinking only about the big picture to meeting the individual needs of our students."
The re-thinking of the curriculum and teaching methods acknowledged that students don't enter the 9th grade at the same skill levels. The task of preparing students for life after high school became more complicated.
Rather than send everyone through the same schedule, the specific needs of individual students dictated their schooling.
"Scheduling became a lot more complicated — our schedule board is magnetic now," Feist said.
At the same time, more information about individual students was made available to teachers.
"We have 5 years of past data on students if they've been in our system," Feist said.
"That's valuable to our teachers."
And students now have expanded options for learning, including on-line courses.
"We're now in the business of helping prepare students to do whatever they're going to do when they leave our building in four years," Feist said.
Meeting the standard
In order to meet AYP standards set by the State Board of Education, each school is evaluated on test scores in reading and math, graduation rate and attendance rate.
"It's not long before the students begin to feel that accomplishing this goal is not just their personal gain but something for the whole school," said Mischel Miller, assistant superintendent.
Students who might not have arrived at the school with much self-confidence begin to see progress.
Teachers give students the message 'I'm not going to let you fail.'
Tests were taken in the spring but Feist didn't receive official notification of the school's achievement until this summer.
"We've had a consistent trend upward in our evaluations," Feist said, "But this is a major milestone. We came from being a school on watch last fall to this."
Page 2 of 2 - "Jacque and the staff met the kids at individual levels and brought them forward. They did an incredible job," Miller said.