The Davenport Community School District's superintendent described the district's decision-making systems and current work with the state to improve its operations during a report Thursday to the Iowa State Board of Education.
The district is working with the Iowa Department of Education to address citations the district received from the state. Those citations concern a number of issues, including providing equitable education for Black students. The effort is under the oversight of the state board. The district’s work on the citations has included professional development for its school board and development of a uniform crisis response and violence prevention plan.
The district has two structures in place to help it in developing initiatives, Davenport Superintendent TJ Schneckloth told the state board at Thursday’s meeting.
The first is a several-step review process for plans it wants to implement. The district’s school board members are updated throughout the process.
The structure flows like this, according to Schneckloth’s report:
- A planning committee develops a step.
- The step is reviewed by separate teams of teachers and administrators.
- It is then distributed to teams at the district buildings that will help carry the initiative out.
The district used the system while implementing its crisis response and violence prevention plan in the 2020-2021 school year, he said.
“That’s what we found to be successful systemically,” Schneckloth said.
The other structure is a schedule for reviewing data. School district administrators at various levels will regularly review data on district operations and provide updates on it.
“We’ve set aside half of our committee of the wholes for our board to interact with data that is critical to the Davenport plan,” he said.
The district's two main efforts as of Thursday were improving early literacy and its ongoing work implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), he said.
PBIS is designed to create safe, positive, predictable spaces in which students can learn and to provide them with assistance both in academics and in developing their social and emotional behavior.
The leadership of the junior high and high schools have recently met and are working on the next steps for the district’s PBIS plan, Schneckloth said.
On early literacy, the district has been laying the initial groundwork and is preparing for more implementation. The district began the school year by looking at its data and starting to assist its students immediately.
Improving early literacy will involve a long-term and systemic approach to how the district teaches reading, he said.
“It’s really about increasing our knowledge and understanding of language essentials for teachers of reading and spelling — that’s the direction that we’re heading,” Schneckloth said.
The state took control of the district's leadership in October of 2020 after department of education officials argued Davenport's schools were not making enough progress to address the the citations.
The state education board is scheduled to review the arrangement in November, according to the department of education.
The department of education's executive summary, as well as a report on the district's progress on various aspects of the plan are available on the state board's website.