A recent assessment of Teton High School indicates that the school has room for improvement in communication between staff and administration while showing positive reviews for classroom performances where teaching is concerned.

Every four years Teton High School and Teton Middle School are assessed by professional accreditation companies to examine the schools as a whole. This process, said Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme, works to provide important feedback to school principals who then use this information to guide their schools toward suggested improvements or to continue to capitalize on good marks. It’s also a basis for accreditation renewal, a standard to which public learning institutions are held. Both schools did pass the accreditation review.

For Teton High School, the report suggests that improvements are needed in a variety of areas, the largest improvement being that of communication. The report was conducted in March and was gained through a public information request by the Teton Valley News in June.

The report read, “It was said the school leadership does listen; however, more often than not, feedback from the informal opportunities is missing. In terms of collaboration with items such as the mission and vision development, goal setting, cultural expectations, processes and school procedures, stakeholders shared that they, most often, felt left out of the conversations. The resulting effect of this conversational piece was described as an environment that lacks a system-wide ‘buy-in.’ Stakeholders are not able to articulate their role or any expectations in the discussion of school improvement.”

“We do know what the problem is,” said Curriculum Director Megan Bybee of the high school report. “The problem is communication and collaboration and my job is to support principals and teachers,” she added of working to address not only the accreditation results, but the larger vision for the school district.

The school was reviewed on the basis of three categories including Leadership Capacity, Learning Capacity, and Resource Capacity. These scores are combined to produce an Index of Education Quality score which is the measure of overall performance based on a scale between 100 to 400.

Teton High School scores 259 IEQ points. According to the study, an IEQ of 275 and above indicates the institution is beginning to reach the “impact level” and “is engaged in practice that are sustained over time and are becoming ingrained in the future of the institution.” Teton Middle School earned an IEQ of 281.50.

“For me, every four years having an accreditation review is a good process for us to go through,” said Woolstenhulme. “This helps us evaluate with another set of eyes for us to improve on. This is one piece of information that the school is looking at. We have a state review and student achievement assessments — I don’t put too much weight on any one piece of information.”

The high school received eight areas that were highlighted as “needs improvement.”

Those areas were:

n The institution commits to a purpose statement that defines beliefs about teaching and learning including the expectations for learners.

n Stakeholders collectively demonstrate actions to ensure the achievement of the institution’s purpose and desired outcomes for learning.

n The governing authority establishes and ensures adherence to policies that are designed to support institutional effectiveness.

n Leaders engage stakeholders to support the achievement of the institution’s purpose and direction.

n The institution provides experiences that cultivate and improve leadership effectiveness.

n The learning culture promotes creativity, innovation and collaborative problem solving.

n Educators gather, analyze, and use formative and summative data that lead to demonstrable improvement of student learning.

n The institution implements a process to continuously assess its programs and organizational conditions to improve student learning.

Additionally, Teton Middle School received two areas that “needs improvement.”

Those were:

n Leaders collect and analyze a range of feedback data from multiple stakeholder groups to inform decision-making that results in improvement.

n The institution implements a process to ensure the curriculum is aligned to standards and best practices.

Woolstenhulme said that the accreditation reports are sent to the principals of those schools and from there it is up to the principals, Brian Ashton of Teton Middle School and Sam Zogg of Teton High School, to share and plan with staff. Woolstenhulme said the reports will be made available on the district’s web site.

Bright spots on the high school report included efforts by the school to implement “Advocacy,” a program that provides additional support to students who need help in a variety of subjects.

The report read, “Parents and students describe the time spent in Advocacy Time as a positive opportunity to connect with the teachers around the topic of academics. The students described the time as valuable to catch-up on school work, get support for academic understanding, and to focus on material with an expert for an extended period of time. Some of the parents were not sure how Advocacy Time was structured or its purpose but talk positively about their student’s reactions to this added period in the schedule. The students were motivated to use this time to get work completed so they could participate in the ‘reward’ assemblies.”

Also noted in the report, “Teachers’ lessons were observed to be organized, meaningful, interactive for most of the students, and effective in presenting content. Teachers talked about the pros and cons of each being responsible for the enforcement of school rules; however, most were adamant that there is a need to have defined shared policies (and consequences) in student behaviors, including a cell phone policy and student “in-school” attendance issues.”

The high school was above average when compared with other secondary institutions when it came to equitable learning environments, high expectation environments and supportive learning environments. The high school scored above average in 21 of the 27 categories where classroom observations were made by the accreditors.

The middle school scored above average in 26 of the 27 categories, falling just below average in using digital tools for learning.

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