External Team Visit

Gibbon Public Schools Shine During External Visit

Gibbon Public Schools recently participated in a review of its School Improvement Processes and fulfilled a requirement found in Nebraska Department of Education Rule 10.  The Nebraska Department of Education, through 92 NAC Chapter 10,009.01B, makes the assertion that one requirement of the school improvement process includes a visitation by a team of external representatives to review progress and provide written recommendations.  The external team visits are conducted at least once each five years. 

The primary purpose of the visitation team is to validate efforts taken by the school district to ensure student growth and to suggest actions to meet specific needs.  Professional experiences, viewpoints, and analysis of data in the spirit of collaboration provide valuable insight to meet expectations of School Improvement.

A team of educators from outside our school district spent January 24th and January 25th  reviewing our practices, interviewing parents, students, educators and board members and conducted classroom visits.  Gibbon Public Schools performed exceptionally well receiving a number of commendations.

The external team identified five commendations.  Commendations are areas that confirm and validate excellent practices are in place to support teaching and learning.  The commendations were:

  • Gibbon Public Schools has strong leaders who support and advocate for students and staff.  The team was impressed with our school board, administrative team, members of the school improvement team and counselors.  The board of education received commendations for their understanding, involvement, and support of the district’s school improvement efforts.
  • Gibbon Public Schools features shared leadership.  Shared leadership is a practice where teachers are empowered to use their strengths to impact positive change.                                             
  • Gibbon Public Schools has been innovative with Career and Technical Education and Work-Based Learning that is responsive to students interests and encourages community engagement.  
  • Gibbon Public Schools displays a shared commitment to welcome and include all stakeholders.  The Buffalo Stampede was specifically pointed out by the external team.
  • Gibbon Public Schools demonstrates a strong commitment to collaborative teams with a shared commitment to goals.  This commitment is seen through –                                                                    
    • The identification of priority standards.  The knowledge and skills each student is expected to know and be able to do, 
    • The development of proficiency scales.  Proficiency scales clarify the progression of learning for students and define what proficiency should look like,
    • The creation of pacing guides.  Pacing guides ensure the knowledge and skills expected of students are addressed and taught throughout the school year,  
    • The practice of tight/loose structures.  Tight/Loose structures ensure consistency in expectations exists by clearly defining the parameters in which teams are expected to function.  At the same time, this structure provides some flexibility for individual teams and teams of teachers to operate within those parameters.  This practice encourages autonomy, flexibility, creativity and innovation.

The district also received two recommendations.  Recommendations are not seen as a weakness, rather, they are viewed as suggestions that will help the district sustain continuous improvement efforts and positively impact student learning.  The district believes the recommendations validate our current efforts as we work to ensure all students’ needs are being met.  The recommendations were –

  •  Expand on the district’s support strategies to effectively meet the educational needs of all students.  There are two key questions teams should answer as they walk through the school improvement process.

The first question – What will we do if students don’t know it?  This recommendation suggests that we look at specific strategies to support students who are struggling to reach proficiency on identified priority standards.

The second question – What will we do if students already know it.  This recommendation suggests that we extend learning experiences for those students who have already reached proficiency on identified priority standards.

  • Broaden and leverage the use of data to guide district-decisions, curriculum selection, and classroom instruction. 

Currently, teams are developing SMART Goals to help us with the first recommendation.  SMART goals emphasize the knowledge and skills all students are expected to know and be able to do, utilize and analyze data to determine student performance, and identify instructional strategies to differentiate instruction.

Gibbon Public Schools strongly believes we are providing excellent learning experiences for all students.  This belief was confirmed by comments made by representatives of the external team.  Not only were they impressed with the body of work taking place each day in our school district, they also claimed that we are exhibiting practices that are not frequently seen in school systems across our state. 


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