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Schools judged by success of grads
By Chris Strunk
Last Updated: July 13, 2017

School districts across the state are now being judged by how well their students do after they're gone.

With the new way the state measures performance, Valley Center is doing OK, with room for improvement.

"It's a start," said Rhonda Price, president of the school board. "I thought we looked pretty good, actually."

The state recently began measuring how well school districts prepare students for post-secondary education — how many students graduate and then complete at least two years of subsequent education. The state recently released data on how all districts are performing.

Valley Center is about average, Superintendent Cory Gibson said.

The state measures graduation rates and success rates (certifications, associate's degrees or on track to earn bachelor's degrees) to get a so-called "effectiveness" rate.

The graduation rate is defined as the number of students who graduate high school in four years divided by the number of students who entered high school as ninth-graders four years earlier (adjusting for transfers in and out).

Valley Center's graduation rate, according to the state's measurements, was 87 percent. In reality, Gibson said, Valley Center has about a 95 percent graduation rate, when taking into account other factors. The state's average was 85 percent, according to the Kansas State Department of Education's Kansas Report Card for 2015-16.

The success rate is defined as the percentage of students who meet one of four outcomes within two years of graduating from high school — earn an industry recognized certification while in high school, earn a post-secondary certification, or earn a post-secondary degree or enroll in a post-secondary school in both the first and second year following high school graduation.

Valley Center's success rate was 57 percent. The state's average was 52 percent.

Gibson said the measurements likely will be modified in the future to reflect demographic factors, such as poverty levels, that school districts face.

"The data is kind of incomplete, but it's a new way of assessing our success," Gibson said.

The numbers also do not take into account military service, colleges that don't report student enrollment or students who may work for two years before pursuing a post-secondary education.

In other business July 10, the board:

•Approved supplemental contracts.

•Accepted resignations from Adam Jilka (temporary summer grounds worker, June 27) and Heaven Hammond (kindergarten aide at West, July 3).

•Approved a transfer for Beulah Dahna (from seven hours per day cook to three hours per day server, Aug. 16).

•Approved the hiring of Dillon Jackson (science teacher at the high school, $41,425, Aug. 10). With the hiring of Jackson, Jessica Pohlman was formally released from her contract.

•Elected Rhonda Price as board president and Richard Harris vice president for 2017-18.

•Appointed board officials — Susan Harris, treasurer; Shelly Thomas, deputy treasurer; Sara Haden, clerk; and Mike Bonner, deputy clerk.

•Approved the establishment of a robotics club at the intermediate school. Run by science teacher Whitney Smith, the club will be open to up to 16 students. Last school year, the school piloted a robotics program with a grant that Smith obtained. Smiths said the club hopes to host a state competition this school year.

•Tabled until next meeting a vote on new board policies.

•Tabled until next meeting board appointments to committees.

•Heard a report on the district's strategic plan, VC Vision 2020.

•Approved a list of routine items to end the 2016-17 fiscal year and start a new year.

•Heard a report on the district's year-ending fund balances.

•Accepted a bid of $38,993 from Sunflower Equipment for a convection oven, six hot carts and a milk cooler.

•Approved an updated memorandum of understanding with law enforcement on guidelines for handling possible student criminal matters, conforming with state law.

•Heard an update on the construction projects taking place across the district this summer.

The board will meet Aug. 7 to discuss the 2017-18 budget.

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