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Commissioner delivers surprise announcement; Smith Center receives top honor in Star Recognition

Commissioner delivers surprise announcement; Smith Center receives top honor in Star Recognition

Smith Center Unified School District 237 administrators and students received a special visit from Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson on Thursday, Sept. 29.

During a districtwide assembly, Watson announced Smith Center as the only district in Kansas to receive the 2022 Commissioner’s Award with Highest Distinction through the Kansans Can Star Recognition Program.

The Kansans Can Star Recognition Program recognizes districts for excelling in outcomes established around the vision for education in Kansas, which is Kansas leads the world in the success of each student. The program recognizes districts in these areas: social-emotional growth, kindergarten readiness, Individual Plan of Study (IPS), civic engagement, academically prepared for postsecondary success, high school graduation and postsecondary effectiveness.

The Commissioner’s Award recognizes those districts that outperform their predicted postsecondary effectiveness rate above a .40 standard deviation. To qualify for the Commissioner’s Award with Highest Distinction, a district had to outperform their predicted rate by a minimum of 2 standard deviations.

A district’s postsecondary effectiveness rate is the percent of its students who began high school in ninth grade and who either earned an industry-recognized certification, a higher education degree or continued their education two years after graduation.

The postsecondary predicted effectiveness rate recognizes that Kansas communities are all different. This measure attempts to level the comparison by recognizing certain risk factors (cumulative poverty, chronic absenteeism and student mobility) as influences on success. Accounting for the degree to which risks factors are present, this measure predicts a district’s expected effective rate. 

“This award is validation for all of our staff, pre-K-12, that we’re on the right track to ensuring our students are successfully prepared to do whatever they want to do,” said Dustin McEwen, Smith Center’s superintendent. “There are still improvements to be made, and we’ll keep working toward excellence.”

Added, Greg Koelsch, Smith Center Junior-Senior High School principal: “We’re only able to achieve this success because of the pride our community has in our schools and the pride our teachers have in what they’re doing. We’re a family, and we try to help kids grow. Instead of an institution, we think of ourselves as a household.”

Smith Center offers a robust career and technical education focus, which includes a work/study program for students seeking a more hands-on approach to learning. High school juniors and seniors can explore careers in welding, teaching, physical therapy, floristry, manufacturing and more through placements in local area businesses and schools.

Each student participates in a daily advisory class with approximately 10 other students to participate in career exploration activities. In March of each year, students and their advisers begin mapping out coursework and real-world experiences aligned to their career interests.

During their spring student-led parent/teacher conferences, students and their advisers discuss and review the student’s career interests and coursework. The school receives nearly a 100% participation rate in these conferences, said Kelli Schmidt, a school counselor.

“Smith Center is a perfect example of what can happen when parents and community are fully engaged in the success of each student,” Watson said. “I am proud of their work.”

Smith Center also received Star Recognition in the areas of high school graduation (bronze), academically prepared for postsecondary success (copper) and postsecondary effectiveness (silver).   





Posted: Oct 13, 2022,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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