District works on student improvement

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
Goals and strategies for student improvement and community engagement were topics of presentation at the Nov. 10 Lebanon Community School District board meeting.
Asst. Supt. Jennifer Meckley presented an annual report on the Student Investment Account and noted the three outcomes the school district is looking for: Increased academic achievement for students, meeting students’ mental or behavioral health needs, and ongoing community engagement.
The District first received partial funding in 2020/21 during distance learning necessitated by COVID, then received full funding in 2021/22 which helped the District implement most of its strategies, she said. Most of the money funded K-3 instructional assistants, deans of student success staff and other staff.
“The biggest challenges were, I would say, the same challenges as last year,” Meckley said. “One of the biggest challenges was a lack of substitutes. When our program is built on people, and people are gone and they get pulled to do other things, it becomes harder to measure the effectiveness when it’s not always super consistent implementation.”
Still, she felt confident the increased staffing provided a successful framework for student support. Regarding community engagement, the process has improved in terms of “consistent output,” but the District still looks toward a “more collaborative interaction with the community and our stakeholders.”
Then Consultant Rachel Cannon spoke about the Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) system.
“After COVID, we knew that to be able to meet (our) goals, we would have to do more for our students than we ever had before,” she said, “but how do we do that when we have no more extra time with our students?”
Those goals include having students reach or exceed grade-level math and English, obtain 90% grade-level reading by the end of third grade, and graduate at least 90% of students on time. To reach the their goals, they would have to implement the MTSS system, she said.
Tier one of MTSS is the base level where all students receive quality classroom instruction, but only about 80% of the students will be successful in that tier, Cannon said. So tier two offers more targeted instruction for those students who need “interventions” which are usually in small group settings. Still, there will be about five percent of those students who will need “more intensive, individualized instruction,” and that’s where tier three comes in.
This year the District brought in a family support team through the MTSS system, has been working with its partnering agencies to help with more targeted services, provided more professional services for staff, and focused on parent engagement.
“We know that the family plays a key role in students being successful, and our Welcome Center works diligently to ensure that families have the support that they need to then in turn be able to support their student at school,” she said.
This year the Welcome Center provided 400 intakes and are supporting 84 students at the tier three level, and 317 students at the tier two level, Cannon said. Through partner BeUndivided, students have been able to access mentorship support. The District has also been working with Linn County Drug and Alcohol to provide intervention services, and brought in 60 community vendors at the Spring Sources of Strength Fair.
District Instructional Mentor Tina Snieder presented to the board the instructional mentor program.
“This is a program that we developed a couple years ago in order to meet the needs of our new-to-Lebanon teachers even more than they had already been met,” Snieder said.
Programs at the District provide support systems to new teachers and staff in the district including an “academy” and mentors, she said. The instructional mentor is not a “coach,” she said, but rather a confidential relationship that is not shared with the principal.
“Having one instructional mentor for the whole district, I’m able to be really clear up-front with them about my goals for them in their growth and specific areas of focus that we as a district leadership have agreed upon,” Snieder said.
In other business, Director of Business Services William Lewis III provided an update on the Seven Oak expansion and Kees Street projects. A bid package for Seven Oak is expected by January, and the first house on Kees Street under the Lebanon High School construction class is getting its foundation poured.