GMG gets perfect CTE readiness score in state report
GARWIN – The GMG Community School District was the only local district to receive a perfect rating in an academic category in the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) Iowa School Performance Profiles, released Oct. 26.
Using a scale of 1 to 100, GMG earned a 100 in making students ready for post-secondary Career & Technical Education (CTE), bypassing the state average of 67.49.
GMG Superintendent Kym Stein said the district requires students to take a collection of CTE courses to graduate. That way, all students have a fundamental understanding of industrial arts and technology, agriculture, family and consumer science and business and computers through a hands-on participation focus.
“Our collaboration with the community college enables us to offer courses beyond our current curriculum, ensuring students can further explore and excel in their areas of interest,” she said.
The district partners with local businesses and community leaders to provide students with enhanced workforce opportunities. GMG staff also ensure there is universal access to the CTE curriculum. Stein said the curriculum aligns seamlessly with post-secondary educational requisites, equipping students for higher education and direct entry into the workforce.
Stein feels the overall results of the report are good. GMG Elementary and GMG Secondary schools are both considered “Acceptable” in the performance results of the schools. The overall performance scores, also on a 1 to 100 scale, are reflections of school performance. The average overall performance score in Iowa is 54.81. GMG Elementary earned 54.18 and the secondary school got 53.18.
Stein said the district is able to accomplish the overall performances through weekly meetings in which standards, student data, performance metrics and assessments are analyzed. A partnership with Central Rivers Area Education Agency has resulted in a seven-year curriculum renewal rotation, which provides teachers and students with the necessary learning tools.
“This intentional approach has helped our faculty grow learning in many ways,” she said.
GMG is also fortunate, she said, to have all classrooms fully staffed. Occasionally, Stein said that involved finding people suited to alternative state-approved teacher licensure paths.
“We’ve all been working together to help everyone do better in school, aiming to take small but important steps that keep pushing us forward in our learning journey,” she said.
The district exceeded the state averages in four-year (97.44) and five-year (96.43) graduation rates. Fifty-eight percent of GMS students also demonstrated growth in English, and the average of statewide students with the same growth is 50.
“Although our overall results were good, we continue looking for ways to help all students in many different programs, which is important to maintain a holistic view of education and continuously strive for improvement across various facets of learning and student development,” Stein said.
However, academic performance improvements can always be made. The percent of GMG students proficient in math was 55.63, and the state average is 69.5; proficient in English is 70.1 and the state average is 71.4.
Stein said math has always been a big educational challenge for many districts. The GMG faculty are finding new ways to improve student learning in that subject.
“Analyzing the performance across subjects such as mathematics, sciences, and language arts provides valuable insights into areas that require enhancement,” she said. “Our ongoing commitment to data analysis drives our Professional Learning Community groups to adapt teaching methodologies and fine-tune the curriculum, all aimed at meeting the diverse needs of our students.”
During the last two years, GMG staff have been dedicated to aligning the math and literacy curricula. The focus has been on enhancing questioning techniques and utilizing data analysis to ensure that alignment.
“We don’t just want students to know the information they learn, we want them to understand and be able to use it to grow their own learning more deeply,” Stein said.
Another area of needed improvement for GMG is that only 18.42 percent of students took the ACT or SAT tests, and the state average of students participating is 47.4.
Stein plans to tackle that by enhancing the math curriculum with incorporating real-world applications, problem-solving and critical thinking exercises which can deepen students’ engagement and understanding. The district will also provide additional resources such as tutoring, study groups or online tools focused on math concepts and test-taking strategies.
“[These are] innovative focused interventions that help students strengthen their skills in areas they’ve fallen short in previously,” she said.
As the second semester of the 2023-24 school year waits around the corner, the GMG teachers will continue working as dedicated people who want what is best for the students.
“We continue to look at our student data, areas that we are doing well, and areas that we continue to focus on,” Stein said.