It is the goal of the Maquoketa Community School District to improve opportunities offered to students that will increase student learning through the process of school improvement. This process has been in place for several years and continues to evolve.

The process is based on action research methodology and incorporates shared decision making and involvement of all stakeholders. A precedence has been established to focus all district priorities around the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan. This includes school board/district goals, staff development activities, fiscal resources, inservice time, Phase III, assessment plans, alignment of instruction and individual building goals.

The district has been working to develop partnerships with other agencies and districts that have similar goals. This has included, but is not limited to, the rural school districts in Clinton and Jackson Counties, the Department of Human Services, Juvenile Justice, the Gannon Center, Community Services, Eastern Iowa Community College District, Iowa State University Extension, Area Substance Abuse Council, local churches and civic organizations. This collaboration has increased available knowledge and strategies to assist with student success. The district applied for and received a school-to-work grant for the 1997-98 school year. The district has a long tradition of working cooperatively with local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce. The district is also working with other agencies to create an Empowerment Zone that should positively impact the students and their families.

The district has a limited amount of resources. It has had a slight decline in enrollment for the past several years. This has restricted the dollars available to support staffing needs and materials for students. The district has worked to utilize alternative funding sources through grants, foundations, and other fund raising efforts. The emphasis on this will continue.


During the 1993-94 school year, a school-community leadership group was formed. These people met and discussed the future for the students of Maquoketa Community School District. The group developed a draft purpose statement and set the goal of getting more input from all stakeholders.


During the 1994-95 school year, a study group was formed to research shared decision making and how it impacts an organization’s improvement. Input on the purpose statement was also gathered and a finalized version was presented to the school board for its adoption during May, 1995. The school improvement process was better articulated through the district’s Phase III plan and an integration of effort between New Iowa Schools Development Corporation, North Central Accreditation, Phase III, Staff Development, and 280.12/18 became apparent. The high school staff investigated and researched an eight block schedule in an attempt to better meet student instructional needs; after a unanimous vote by teachers in the spring, plans were made to implement a new schedule during the 1995-96 school year.


During the 1995-96 school year, each building created a mission statement that supported the district’s purpose statement. There were three committees at each building conducting internal research to create student profiles; the committees focused on climate, demographics, and student performance (including standardized and nonstandardized). The climate committee gathered data about how students and others perceive the building’s learning and working atmosphere. The demographics committee created demographic profiles of the students served in each building. The student performance committee gathered data on achievement based grades, standardized and non-standardized tests. The information was shared district wide and three themes emerged as target areas which need to be improved to positively impact student success. The high school implemented block scheduling and gathered data throughout the year; in their report to the board in the spring, they concluded it was a positive changed based on their data collection.


During the 1996-97 school year, three new subcommittees were established at each building. The committees (communication, instruction and technology) investigated research related to various practices as well as visit other schools to observe practices that are leading toward improving student success. During the spring they shared their findings. Action plans were developed as a district and at each building based on the findings. The action plans identified goals, as well as the methods and timelines necessary to meet the goals.


During the 1997-98 school year, the district developed exit level outcomes that supported the purpose statement. During the year, the elementary developed benchmarks in the areas of math and language arts. They also developed a new curriculum model focusing on the integration of content areas and process development. The Middle School participated in a Goals 2000 Implementation Grant and they had the opportunity to develop pilot units integrating curriculum concepts, technology, and inquiry learning. The work each building did supported action plans written during the spring of 1997. These action plans were modified and revised as needed. A limited amount of data was collected to document growth in student achievement. Some findings were reported to the community. The district recognized they needed to focus more on improving student achievement.


During the 1998-99 school year, effort was placed on articulating standards, interval benchmarks and grade level benchmarks for language arts, math, science, technology and physical education. As a part of a Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency consortium of schools, the district received a Goals 2000 grant to support the development of standards, benchmarks and assessment tools for the areas of reading, math and science. Teachers and administrators worked on articulating the standards and interval benchmarks.

The two elementary buildings received a Goals 2000 grant to develop a curriculum framework to develop curriculum units that have knowledge and skills aligned with content standards; have learning goals and processes based on disaggregated needs of all learners; contains rigorous and relevant integrated curriculum; has opportunities for application of learning; allows students to direct some of the activities; modifies time structures for project based learning; and integrates technology seamlessly. The elementary schools developed such a framework and a third grade and a fourth grade writing team used the curriculum framework to write units during the summer of 1999. The Middle School continued its Goals 2000 work through an implementation grant. Also, teachers from every grade level wrote an integrated unit during the summer of 1999.


During the 1999-2000 school year, the Department of Education introduced the idea of the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan. The Maquoketa District involved all stakeholders in this process. The administrative team organized work within their buildings to identify and set both long range and annual improvement goals. The District Improvement Team, consisting of parents, community members, teachers, administrators and school board members met to review and offer input on the work. Belief statements were developed and will be reviewed annually for ongoing revisions. The Maquoketa School District chose to go above and beyond the requirements set out by the Department of Education. While it was required that districts identify goals in reading, math and science, we also developed goals in technology, environment (facilities), behavior and curriculum. This allowed us to continue our practice of being a progressive school district. As we expect our students to go beyond minimum requirements, we too choose to model this.

In addition, the First Annual Progress Report to the Community was introduced. This report takes the place of the 280.12 /280.18 reports previously required of districts. The focus was now on reporting to the community rather than to the Department of Education. The intent was to make the reports more meaningful to the individuals directly involved with the school district. The process of gathering data began!


At the start of the 2000-2001 school year, that Annual Progress Report was presented not only to the community but to all faculty and staff of the entire district. While it was a slow process at first, the community eventually began to take notice of test scores, student achievement and the overall work of the district. Because of the increased attention on students achievement and especially standardized test scores, committees were formed to focus on these results. Test scores went up significantly across the district, as is evidenced by the following information.

Grade %P/A (2000) %P/A (2001) Change
4 48.5 66.0 +17.5
4 48.5 66.0 +17.5


Grade %P/A (2000) %P/A (2001) Change
4 48.5 66.0 +17.5
4 48.5 66.0 +17.5


*%P/A = %Proficient and above

These positive changes can be attributed to several factors including: the focus on alignment of standards to teaching and assessment, the increased emphasis on student achievement and the concentrated efforts by all staff to challenge a student to their highest potential.

The implementation of the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan has been a strong focus of the 2000-2001 school year. Faculty, staff, administrators and school board members worked extremely hard to complete the 18 tasks/action steps identified for completion this past school year. As of May 1, 2001 ALL of those tasks were completed and documented.

Contact Person: Jane Schmidt or Christine Snell