Serving Grades Pre-Kindergarten - 8th
St. Jude Catholic School is committed to helping our students achieve their spiritual, academic, and social potential for success as lifelong learners.
FAITH • INSTRUCTION • SERVICE • HONOR
What is school improvement?
The No Child Left Behind Act requires all states to enact school improvement initiatives. Even though St. Jude is not subject to federal sanctions if it were to fail in standardized testing, we still use a process of ongoing and continuous assessment to maintain our accreditation and ensure a curriculum which grows based on data and student growth.
Why have an improvement plan?
For too long, schools just taught what felt good and did not attempt to demonstrate a committment to ongoing improvement based on both aggreggate and individualized assessment data. Such data does not only include standardized testing results, but also local assessments and other schoolwide measures that the teachers choose to monitor student progress.
Who monitors our improvement efforts?
On a local level, our stakeholders include teachers, students, parents, school board, and members of St. Jude Parish. We share this process because these people directly contribute to and benefit from our efforts.
On a broader level, the State of Indiana has many specific guidelines that we must follow to maintain accreditation. We also work with the AdvancED organization to reach an even higher level of excellence. You may read more about the process here, but their web site provides more detailed information about how it works and why it is important to us: http://www.advanc-ed.org
What is the school improvement process?
The improvement plan consists of a continual cycle that occurs at whatever pace best fits the needs of the local school. Here are some of the most important elements:
1. The school profile
This document considers data taken from the local community, local assessments, teacher surveys, student surveys, community surveys, standardized test scores, instructional information, and any other material that can help give a broad snapshot of the school. The profile is updated each year as other data and information become available. We can follow multiple-year trends with respect to our ISTEP score, mathematics fluency, and writing skills, for instance. The school profile and other data may be reviewed in the school office upon request.
2. Triangulation of data
In order to develop schoolwide goals, we look for evidence of three areas of weakness throughout the data presented in the school profile. This information is also available in that document. To summarize, our data had multiple sources that suggested a need for improvement in the areas of math and reading.
3. School Improvment Plan
Our improvement plan is based upon two schoolwide goals:
• All students will improve their ability to apply reading comprehension skills in diverse contexts, subjects, and situations.
• All students will improve their ability to apply mathematical reasoning in a variety of problem solving contexts.
It should be noted that these goals must address learning across all grades and include the participation of all subject areas. Therefore, problem solving may be conceived as a type of learning most often associated with mathematics, but it really crops up as a necessary skill for learning and practice in any discipline. Similarly, reading comprehension can be part of the Language Arts suite, but its realistic application applies to all subjects of inquiry.
The School Improvement Plan itself lays out very specific goals and action steps that the school will take, along with assessments, resources, persons responsible, and timelines for completion. We try to follow the document closely; but data often requires that we try a different approach, revise timelines, or even change the way we enact certain interventions. It should be an active, evolving plan rather than a static, rigid one.
4. The Standards Assessment Report
Once every 5 years, we get an on site visit from 3 or 4 of our peers from the AdvancED Organization. These are other teachers or principals from member schools that come in for 2 days to give an outsider's look at how well we are meeting the accreditation standards.
Prior to this visit, we must file an extensive self report, known as the Standards Assessment Report or SAR. Since our visit is on October 13 & 14, we have recently submitted our SAR. You may dowload a copy to review. The purpose of the report is to help the review team get an overview of the school and to guage how we view our own progress. They will look for their own evidence of standards attainment during the visit.
5. The Quality Assurance Review
The review team met with administration, teachers, staff, students, and parents. They will conduct interviews, an instructional tour of the school, and reviewed documents relating to our school governance, curriculum, and instructional improvement. In order to prove that our school is "operational" or "highly functional" in all 7 standards (as well as Catholic Identity), they gathered evidence from artifacts, observations, and interviews.
Our school received renewed Accreditation for the next 5 years, under 'advisement' which means that there are particular areas where they do want us to show continued attention and improvement. These areas are primarily related to curriculum and instruction–attaining consistency in these areas–which our faculty has already been working on for some time and feel confident that we will solve.
We received glowing reviews in several areas including Catholic Identity, community involvement and communication, student resources and support, and leadership and governance.
6. The cycle continues
Every 3 or 4 years, we will completely renew the school profile, look for evidence of new areas to set goals, and establish a new cycle of improvement. The same process continues for as long as we participate in the AdvancED organization or until they change their format for accreditation.