School improves performance
THS passes with flying colors, says state accreditation team
When it comes to quality performance evaluation, Tonganoxie High School is light years ahead of where it was five years ago.
Gordon Myers, superintendent of Garnett schools and chairman of the state Quality Performance Accreditation team that visited the school last week, praised the school.
"You could say they passed with flying colors," Myers said. "In all components that were examined, the visiting accreditation team was pleased with the work that had been done by the administration and faculty."
Since the early 1990s, Kansas schools have been reviewed once every five years.
Mike Bogart, THS principal, said that as a result of the last accreditation survey five years ago, the school had worked to raise standards.
"We developed some strategies for improvement," Bogart said. "And we trained teachers to use the strategies. Then, over a five-year period you monitor the students and at the end of five years the surveyors come in and decide if you've actually made improvements."
One proof of the improvements, Bogart said, can be pinpointed in student scores on assessment tests.
Various assessment tests are used to monitor student progress, including locally created tests, Bogart said.
Since then, the high school has seen an average increase in the ACT test scores, as well as in other assessment tests.
This is important, Bogart said.
"It's our job to show that we have improved," he said. "But if the numbers don't say so, it can be difficult."
Bogart summarized some of the results of the five-year study.
"Writing is strong for us," he said.
Students have also improved in expository reading, Bogart said.
"This means they are better at reading for information."
However, Bogart expressed concern that students don't seem to be spending enough time reading for pleasure, or meaning, as in making inferences from what they read.
"We need to work on that," he said.
The Stanford achievement tests aren't as high as they should be, Bogart said. But he said he believes a continuing trend in student achievement is possible.
"We set high expectations for the kids and they'll just keep coming around."
Bogart praised the high school staff for their work.
"We're trying for 100 percent participation in terms of every teacher getting on board and supporting the effort," Bogart said.
Bogart said various teachers prepared and presented information for the QPA committee last week.
Among those, Phil Williams talked about problem solving, Steve Harrell talked about reading and Jean Willson talked about the school's writing goals.
Superintendent Richard Erickson sat in on some of the presentations last week.
"I heard Mr. Van Middlesworth, Mr. Plaschka and Mr. Percy and others," Erickson said. " It was all very well done, it's a culmination of a lot of hard work on the part of Mr. Bogart in leading this effort and the staff and the materials and sharing it all with the accreditation team."
Now that the evaluation is complete, Bogart said he's ready to start up again.
"They said they were much impressed by the basic trend in our data," Bogart said. "But we'll need to watch the first two years of the next cycle and make sure we don't take a dip. There isn't any point in improving if you don't stay up there."