The Kane School District’s Big Water School (BWS), a Title One school, was recently designated as a Turnaround School by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE). In previous, recent years, BWS won recognition as a High Performing Title One school. In October of 2015, the district received word that the USOE had identified BWS as a Focus school (based on student performance data showing it to be in the lowest 15 percent in the state), and designated it as a Turnaround School.

The Turnaround School program calls for the implementation of an improvement plan, and for school administrators to create committees composed of teachers and parents and to work with outside consultants to improve student performance.

In December of 2015, three USOE Title One School Support Team (SST) members from Innovations Education Consulting, an outside consultant, conducted a complete appraisal at the school, assessing strengths and challenges in the following areas: leadership, curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment, and culture and collaborative relationships. A plan was then prepared with the school.

BWS new Principal, Andy Roundy, along with Debbie Dempsey, of Innovations Education Consulting, presented the Turnaround School improvement plan and process, to the Kane County Board of Education, at its March 11, 2016, meeting. They outlined the plan, goals and strategies.

The primary goal is to increase student proficiency in Language Arts and Math, in grades 3-6, to 38 percent, as measured by the Student Assessment Of Growth and Excellence (SAGE), in 2016, with that percentage increasing in 2017 and 2018. Another goal is to increase the school median growth percentile over the next three years. SAGE is the comprehensive assessment system created by and used by Utah educators to measure student progress.

The school and consultants developed strategies and action steps to meet these goals, based on best practices and scientific research proven to have an impact on student achievement. Strategies include expanded parental involvement, improved communication, teacher mentoring and collaborative team coaching.

The consultants will provide expertise and coaching, the district will provide professional development time and opportunities for the teachers, and the state is providing funding to support the plan. The plan meets all of the statutory requirements, and was approved by the school board.

Outgoing District Reading Specialist Nancy Roundy and incoming Reading Specialist Robin Coleman gave a literacy presentation They reported on progress made by students in reading comprehension, and introduced board members to Successmaker, a new instructional program for grades K-2 that the district started using earlier this school year. The purchase of the program was funded by early intervention funds from the state under House Bill 513 (targeted to benefit at-risk students), passed in 2012, and further authorized by Senate Bill 101, passed in 2015. This legislation provides for the collection of information and data about the use of interactive computer software for literacy and numeracy. The USOE monitors student progress under this program.

Roundy presented progress data using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy Skills (DIBELS) scores, showed some student writing samples, and reported positive teacher responses. Kane District scores are well over the state goal of 47 percent proficiency.

In other business, the board approved one home school application and the following hires: Jeremy Button as Kanab High School (KHS) Vocational Education Teacher, and Michelle Federkeil as Kanab Middle School Special Ed Teacher. The board has numerous other vacancies to fill, and will continue to work on filling them.

The Kane School Board recognized Kortney Stirland for his extraordinary service to the schools and community in the area of music. The board also recognized Shellie Stewart, who was recently honored with a teaching award for her excellent work with the KHS Larriettes. Congratulations to both.