Elementary will finish School of Excellence

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 10/1/96.

In an attempt to improve the education the Paynesville Elementary School is providing students, the elementary staff will be starting a program entitled, Minnesota Standards for Quality Elementary Schools.

ãThe program will give the staff a feeling of what they need to do to improve the school, help identify trouble spots,ä Gary Heineman, elementary principal, said. ãIt will help compliment what we already do.ä

Heineman explained the program is offered through the Minnesota Elementary School Principalsâ Association and will take a year to complete. ãAt present, we are just getting organized,ä he said. ãThe staff members will serve on seven focus groups and it will be their job to look at the standards of excellence and determine if we meet the seven quality indicators.ä

The seven focus groups are: organization: Chris Quale, Sue Currens, Janet Binsfeld, Rita Brossard, Jim Elseth and Berniece Voss; Leadership: Mary Stock, Nancy Alstead, Karlin Niedan, Colleen Pelton, Mary Kottke and Lou Louis; Curriculum: Sharon Johnson, Margaret McLaughlin, Rita Holm, Dave Randgaard, Ann Lundgren and Cheryl Colbert;

Instruction: Eileen Werner, Lonnie Lien, Gwynne Nichols, Joyce Anderson, Denise Landsteiner, Jane Ruprecht, Bev Strand; Human resources development: Lori Asche, Connie Backes, Faye Hartert, Karen Mumm, and Diane Nelson;

School climate: Trish Skahan, Jane Hjelle, Sheryl Schmiginsky, Madonna Leimer, and Betty Sieben; Evaluation and assessment: Marlys Sorenson, Rick Houske, Clarice Stumo, Pam Pfeifer and Barb Werlinger.

Heineman said a parent volunteer will be added to each of the focus groups. Within the seven focus groups are 21 standards of excellence. Each standard is accomplished by a number of quality indicators which will be useful for determining the extent to which a particular standard is being met. The indicators may vary in their degree of evidence in the school setting at any time.

The format allows school districts to follow two steps in the self-analysis process. First, the standards and related quality indicators serve as a guide, asking the reviewer to identify the extent to which each of the quality indicators is evident within the school. The following scale is used as a checklist for quality indicators: always evident, usually evident, seldom evident or not evident. The second step starts with a composite judgment for each standard regarding the extent of improvement indicated. The following scale is used: minimal, some or extensive.

ãOnce we get started, we will go intensely at first,ä Heineman said. ãThen weâll go to the next aspect, establish a plan for improvement. We set our own deadlines as to how fast we complete each phase of the program.ä Heineman said the School of Excellence will be on the agenda of every elementary staff meeting to touch base with everybody and keep the other teachers up to date. ãEverybody is supposed to be involved in the process,ä he added.

Heineman said the program should be completed by June and an application sent to the Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association. ãThey will review Paynesvilleâs program and analyze what we have done, what we need to do to reach full completion to merit approval,ä Heineman added. ãThen there is the continuation phase where the school has to develop plans for correction for our trouble spots.ä

The school will need to complete a 25-page application form. In the form they will need to describe the school setting, type of building, the community the district serves and social-economic profile, outline the districts beliefs and goals, list the district strategy of why students are placed in certain classrooms, to name a few. Heineman did not expect to hear the results of the reviewal until August of next year.

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