School facilities committee near bond recommendation

Emmett High School domes cited as "no longer support student learning effectively."

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The Emmett Independent School District Board of Trustees has received a favorable review of the education experience students are receiving at Emmett High School. The three-day School Accreditation Engagement Review was conducted in February but the written evaluations were shared with the board at its June 8 meeting.

EHS Principal Wade Carter presented the board with the findings of a three-person review panel who conducted the Cognia Performance Accreditation and Engagement Review. EHS scored high in a vast majority of the categories assessed in the Cognia Continuous Improvement System.

That system uses a four level scoring system with levels designated as (1) Insufficient, (2) Initiating, (3) Improving, or (4) Impacting. Each are designed to identify continuous improvement as “an embedded behavior rooted in an institution’s culture that constantly focuses on conditions, processes, and practice to improve teaching and learning” according to the published report document.

The system’s diagnostic tools are used to evaluate the school’s effectiveness in three areas: Leadership Capacity, Learning Capacity, and Resource Capacity.

EHS received all 3 and 4 level marks in regard to its Leadership Capacity Standards — what the report called “an essential element of organizational effectiveness.”

The Learning Capacity Standard scores were even more impressive. All 12 of the components of that standard earned a 3 or 4 level rating with nine of the components registering the highest Impacting rated. According to the report “an effective learning culture is characterized by positive and productive teacher/learner relationships; high expectations and standards; a challenging and engaging curriculum; quality instruction and comprehensive support that enable all learners to be successful; and assessment practices that monitor and measure learner progress and achievement.”

EHS recorded a perfect 8 for 8 at the Impacting level in the Resource Capacity Standards. This is a reflection on the ability of the school to “ensure that resources are distributed and utilized equitably so the needs of all learners are adequately and effectively addressed.”

Another level of evaluation employed by the review team was an observation of learning environments.

Twenty-eight items organized in seven environments are incorporated in the observation’s rubric. Results of this process using the “eleot” — Effective Learning Environment Observation Tool — are based on the student’s engagement in and reaction to the learning environment. EHS rated well above the system’s averages in all seven of the environments.

The overall accreditation status and index of education quality, on a 100 to 400 scale, rated Emmett High at 356.60. The five-year average of other schools assessed under these criteria was in a 278 to 283 range.

The accreditation review was not designed as a final judgement or a celebration of reaching a certain status according to the Cognia report. It’s about continued improvement, regardless of present success or failure levels.

The Engagement Review Team identified some specific themes “as part of Emmett High School’s continuous improvement journey.”

Some specific insights provided from the review:

  • Quality leadership was evident at all levels across the system.
  • The school, district, and board leadership have provided sustained strategic resource management, even amidst challenging community demographics.
  • While the school has maximized its resources and staffing, they have outgrown their facilities as evidenced by large class sizes and limited classroom and large meeting spaces. The windowless three-story domes no longer support student learning effectively.
  • Emmett High School has embedded the core values of caring, community, and striving in the daily life of the school.

The report further lauded EHS for its commitment to prepare students for post-secondary career and college opportunities, citing its success with dual credit course offerings. It noted the consistently high graduation rate of 92 to 95 percent compared to the low “go on” rate of 45%. An intentional initiative to expand technology resources to support learning needs was evidence across the system, according to the review team.

The report concluded that Emmett High School provides a high quality, high expectation learning environment with varied academic and extracurricular opportunities. There are continued efforts by staff to immerse students in a culture that is inclusive. Outgrown and aging school facilities have been identified as the most pressing priority by all stakeholder groups.

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