Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 6:08 PM on Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Like the children of Lake Wobegone, KPBSD students are above average

By Dr. Steve Atwater

About 10 weeks ago our students, knowing that the summer break was upon them, gleefully bid goodbye to their teachers and schools. Now that the reprieve of summer has ended, all of us at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are ready to welcome them back to school. Since May, we have been busy preparing for the coming school year. During the summer we spent a lot of time analyzing test scores, reviewing discipline data, and the other indicators that affect student performance. Overall, I am pleased to report that we found that we are improving.

One way to determine how well our students are progressing is to compare them with their peers across the state. As you can see from the accompanying table, our students' test scores on the state's Standards Based Assessments, or SBA, continue to be above the state's averages.

All of us, however, recognize that these scores only tell a part of the story and that we must do all that we can to ensure that our graduates are adequately prepared for life after high school. To do this, we will continue to refine our staff members' collaborative processes as a way to improve our instructional practices.

Another pending improvement item of note is our school board reviewing and possibly refining the policy that determines our graduation requirements. Your principal will have information on how you can contribute to this process. Also of interest is a graduate survey that we are currently conducting; I will share the results of this with you later this fall.

All of us at KPBSD strive to keep you, our stakeholders, informed about all of our operations; this is a responsibility that we take seriously. Our website is the main source for this communication and is in a constant state of change with postings of new information. We will also continue to provide district information to you through Facebook (@Kenai Peninsula Borough School District) and my blog. In addition, your school newsletters and other district publications will keep you up to speed on what is going on with KPBSD.

In the Homer area, we welcome back our teachers, nurses, custodians, bus drivers and food service professionals — they are the backbone for district success. Locally we have three administrative changes to share. We welcome Conrad Woodhead to Chapman School in Anchor Point; Jeff Ambrosier to Ninilchik School; and in our Old Believer village we welcome Michael Wojciak to Voznesenka School.

We invite parents and community members to join us by volunteering in the schools and becoming involved in partnerships to support students. Schools need the help of parents and community members to be successful with each student. It also is critical for our students to know that their parents, guardians, relatives and friends are supportive of their schooling process. A student without this support may at times feel at a loss to find the necessary focus to excel at his or her studies.

Please let your principal know of recommendations that you may have for improvement at your school or for the district; we are always receptive to hearing your thoughts. I hope to see you in the coming months and wish you a great start to the school year. We look forward to another outstanding school year.

Dr. Steve Atwater is the superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.