What message are we sending . . .

November 21st, 2015

Earlier this year, I attended a conference led by education consultant and author, Steve Barkley. He shared with the group, how proud he is of his granddaughter and how well she does in school. He described how she had gone the entire first quarter without missing any of her spelling words and earning 100 percent on all of her other academic tasks.

If Mr. Barkley’s granddaughter was our child, how many of us would react to her school performance with great pride and satisfaction? Mr. Barkley’s reaction was much different. It’s not that he wasn’t proud of his granddaughter, but he was concerned that she might not be facing challenges that would cause her to learn and grow.

Mr. Barkley’s perspective challenges me, and anyone who is committed to helping young people develop. As we work with and support our children, I believe it is more important than ever that we emphasize the right things. With that in mind, consider the following:

  • Do we value A’s more than we value learning?
  • Do we value being right more than we value doing right?
  • Do we value convenience more than we value contribution?
  • Do we value playing time more than we value being part of a team?
  • Do we value self-esteem more than we value self-awareness?
  • Do we value comfort more than we value struggles?

It isn’t bad when our children struggle. Our role isn’t to remove the struggles, our role is to equip our children to face and overcome those struggles. By doing so, I believe we are preparing them for the future and instilling in them a growth mindset that will serve them well no matter what they face.

Student Achievement

November 21st, 2015

Each year the MOC-Floyd Valley Community School District submits to the Iowa Department of Education an Annual Progress Report (APR). The APR serves two main purposes: to comply with the federal legislation, No Child Left Behind, and to report to the local community the progress that the district is making towards the annual student achievement goals. Other information such as post-secondary data, early intervention goals, and attendance data are also provided. The report is generally submitted in September to the State of Iowa and shared via the district newsletter in November.

In addition to meeting the reporting requirement, we use this—and other data—to determine how to best focus our efforts as a school district. Based upon all considered data, our district focus is “to design our system so that we improve learning for all students and lessen the achievement gap between “all students” and our Low SES, IEP, and ELL subgroups

Student Achievement goals involve the district’s School Improvement Advisory Council, Leadership Team, Building Teams, and the Board of Education. The Board-adopted student achievement goal, supporting initiatives, and measurable progress indicators for 2014-15 are shown below:

District Goal: All K-12 students will achieve at high levels in reading comprehension, math, and science prepared for success beyond high school. In addition, increased student learning will be demonstrated in all curricular areas through the use of formative and summative assessment data.

  • Supporting Initiatives: PLC—Collaborative Learning Teams, Iowa Core Implementation, Reading Strategies, Cognitive Guided Instruction, APL Instructional Strategies, & Authentic Intellectual Work.
  • Measurable Progress Indicator
    • Reading Comprehension
      • 90% of 3rd – 11th Grade students will score in the proficient range or demonstrate at least one year’s growth on the Iowa Assessments
    • Math
      • 88% of 3rd – 11th Grade students will score in the proficient range or demonstrate at least one year’s growth on the Iowa Assessments.
    • Science & Social Studies
      • 90% of 3rd – 11th Grade students will score in the proficient range or demonstrate at least one year’s growth on the Iowa Assessments.
    • General
      • Curriculum Specialists will report progress on specific curriculum area student-learning goals.

The APR is based upon Iowa Assessment data for our school district. Below is some summarized data for reading and math.

Grade Level                       Student Group                    % Proficient in Reading                  % Proficient in Math

Grades 3-5                            All Students                                          92.33%                                                  90.67%

Grades 3-5                            Low SES Students                               88.24%                                                  82.35%

Grades 3-5                            IEP Students                                         80%                                                        76.67%

Grades 3-5                            ELL Students                                       NR*                                                        NR*


Grade Level                        Student Group                     % Proficient in Reading                  % Proficient in Math

Grades 6-8                            All Students                                          85.32%                                                  91.67%

Grades 6-8                            Low SES Students                               76.92%                                                  84.62%

Grades 6-8                            IEP Students                                         33.33%                                                  50%

Grades 6-8                            ELL Students                                       NR*                                                        NR*


Grade Level                        Student Group                     % Proficient in Reading                  % Proficient in Math

Grade 11                               All Students                                          92.16%                                                  94.12%

Grade 11                               Low SES Students                               83.33%                                                  83.33%

Grade 11                               IEP Students                                         NR*                                                        NR*

Grade 11                               ELL Students                                       NR*                                                        NR*

*NR = Not reportable because the number of students was too low

ACT Testing Data:

ACT provides a benchmark score on subject-area tests to indicate a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college course. The Benchmark scores are as follows: College English Composition = ACT English-18 or higher, College Algebra = ACT Math-22 or higher, College Social Science = ACT Reading-22, College Biology = ACT Science-23.


College Course MOC-FV Iowa Nation
College English Composition 89% 75% 64%
College Algebra 53% 48% 42%
College Social Science 80% 55% 46%
College Biology 67% 48% 38%
Met All Four 41% 33% 28%


Five-year trend data for our student scores on the ACT test are shown below:

Academic Year Reading Reading English English
2010-11 24.5 22.6 23.6 21.7
2011-12 24.5 22.5 23.8 21.6
2012-13 24.3 22.5 24.3 21.5
2013-14 24.6 22.5 24.4 21.5
2014-15 25.1 22.7 23.7 21.6
Academic Year
Math Math Science Science
2010-11 22.3 21.9 24.2 22.4
2011-12 22.2 21.7 24.2 22.2
2012-13 23.5 21.6 24.6 22.2
2013-14 22.1 21.4 24 22.2
2014-15 22 21.5 23.9 22.3
Academic Year Composite Composite
2010-11 23.8 22.3
2011-12 23.7 22.1
2012-13 24.3 22.1
2013-14 23.9 22
2014-15 23.9 22.2


You can find the entire Annual Progress Report at, https://www.educateiowa.gov/data-reporting/district-aea-reports, or a hard copy can be obtained at the MOC-Floyd Valley School District Office, located at 709 8th Street South East.

Focus on Learning . . .

November 17th, 2015

At MOC-Floyd Valley, we are striving to make every classroom a place of rich and valuable learning for all students. Such a systemic goal requires clear and focused collaboration throughout the district. One of the tools we use to assess our efforts and provide direction is a process called, “Instructional Rounds” – which is the educational version of medical rounds used in many medical school programs.
Instructional Rounds are a disciplined way for educators to work together to improve instruction (City, Elmore, Fiarman, & Teitel, 2009). The process combines three common elements of improvement: classroom observation, an improvement strategy, and a network of educators.
Rounds visits are centered on the instructional core – the teacher, the students, and the content. There are seven principles of the instructional core that guide our work (City, Elmore, Fiarman, & Teitel, 2009). They are:
1) Increases in student learning occur only as a consequence of improvements in the level of the content, teachers’ knowledge & skill, and student engagement.
2) If you change any single element of the instructional core, you have to change the other two.
3) If you can’t see it in the core, it’s not there.
4) Task predicts performance.
5) The real accountability system is in the tasks that students are asked to do.
6) We learn to do the work by doing the work, not by telling other people to do the work, not by having done the work at some time in the past, and not by hiring experts who can act as proxies for our knowledge about how to do the work.
7) Description before analysis, analysis, before prediction, and prediction before evaluation.
At MOC-Floyd Valley, we are conducting Rounds visits in each building two times per year. These visits are focused on different elements of the instructional core, and they align with our professional development efforts. The data collected provides us with proof that what we have deemed important is either working or isn’t working.
Administrators, instructional coaches and teachers work together to design and conduct the visits. All staff members are engaged in processing the data and implementing any identified changes. From there, we repeat the cycle as a part of our commitment to continuous improvement that is centered on learning.

Welcome Back!

August 19th, 2015

What an exciting time of year! The start of school, like the start of most things is filled with anticipation, hope, and energy. This is true for everyone involved, students, parents and school personnel. As we get underway, please consider this your invitation to join us in this exciting educational journey as we strive to embody our District Mission of “fostering learning, excellence, and civic responsibility!”

With this mission in mind, everyone who serves at MOC-Floyd Valley will strive to consistently radiate the following characteristics:

  • Focus on Learning
  • Positive Outlook & Demeanor
  • Clear/High Expectations
  • Quality Collaboration
  • Clear Communication
  • Servant’s Heart
  • Clear Focus Positive Role Modelling
  • Vision
  • Wisdom
  • Growth Mindset
  • Timely Support
  • High Engagement
  • Belief & Hope
  • Unconditional Respect
  • Empathy & Compassion
  • Open Mind
  • Flexibility
  • Sense of Humor
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

Below are the foci that the MOC-Floyd Valley School District will emphasize during the 2015-16 school year.

  • Focus #1:  We will be a community of learners and will assist all students to learn at high levels while continuing our emphasis on closing the achievement gap between all students and our low SES, IEP, and ELL subgroups.
  • Focus #2: We will develop a positive, safe culture where everyone is respected, valued, and included – where collaboration and engagement are the norm.
  • Focus #3:  We will strengthen relationships and provide support to families in an effort to strengthen that ever-important partnership.
  • Focus #4:  We will provide meaningful professional development that strengthens all points of the Learning Triangle.
  • Focus #5:  We will empower students and staff to utilize technology to deepen, strengthen and expand learning.
  • Focus #6: We will strive to maintain or improve the financial health of the district while providing high quality educational and co-curricular programs that allow us to fulfill our mission of “fostering learning, excellence and civic responsibility.”

We have an exceptional team of educators and support staff; sincere, supportive parents; and eager, talented students. It is our belief that placing our energy and efforts in these areas will lead to the highest possible levels of learning and achievement for our students. We are certainly looking forward to the journey!


The Realities of Leading with Finite Resources

April 23rd, 2015

As I consider the state of limbo that we find ourselves in from a school funding perspective, I am both frustrated and empathetic.


I am frustrated by the lack of bi-partisan leadership these days – both in our Nation’s capital and in our State capital. I truly believe that our elected legislators have a desire to serve their constituents well. Unfortunately, allegiance to one’s party seems to eliminate the possibility of sincere, frank discussion that leads to a mutual agreement of the facts and a commitment to the best decisions.

I am also frustrated by the double standard used by our elected officials. Each week I receive updates from several legislators stating their positions on different issues. Often legislators lead by saying, “According to State law, we must . . .” This opener is used to explain positions and justify actions, but has been conveniently avoided when it comes to the timely establishment of State Supplemental Aid for K-12 Education.


It is easy to state my frustration, but it is important to acknowledge the difficult job that our legislators face. The government, like families, school districts, and businesses, has a limited amount of resources to distribute.   The greater the number of people affected, the greater the variance in priorities. As Stephen Covey stated so eloquently, “When we say ‘yes’ to one thing, we say ‘no’ to another.” Ultimately choices have to be made.   I certainly empathize with our legislators as they decide how to best distribute the resources available to meet the needs of Iowans.

My plea to legislators during this session has, and will continue to be, “please remove the ‘we vs. they’ mentality that seems to pervade politics, and work together to determine – and then do what you collectively determine is best for Iowa.”

Technology to support learning at MOC-Floyd Valley

February 19th, 2015

Technology – it certainly has changed the way we interact with and see the world! At MOC-Floyd Valley, we are working to embrace the opportunities and manage the challenges that come with ever-changing technology. Last year, during our strategic plan, we established the following goal regarding technology to support learning at MOC-Floyd Valley: “Students will utilize technology to engage effectively in a world saturated with technology.”

In support of this goal, we are working to create a situation where students and teachers are able to consistently and easily utilize technology to:

    • Deepen learning and enhance problem-solving skills
    • Heighten engagement
    • Individualize and personalize instruction and learning
    • Multiply students’ interaction and interplay with the world
    • Create relevance and real-life context
    • Efficiently manage important data that drives instruction
    • Communicate easily and seamlessly w/ various stakeholders in order to partner in the educational process

We are committed to providing the network and devices to allow for this type of teaching/learning environment. Thanks to the expertise of our district technology team (currently made up of Jack Bonnecroy, Joel Bundt and Sandy Groom Meeks), the network and infrastructure throughout the district are strong. Because of this, we have been able to increase the number of devices for students and staff, while continuing to have adequate internet access.

We are attempting to design our system to maximize our resources, stay as current as possible with the technology, and minimize the maintenance needs. We have developed a five-year plan for purchasing/leasing to support this design, and we are planning to hire additional personnel to assist in the maintenance and upkeep of all of the technology we have.

Just as important as having the devices and access, is having the skills and mindset necessary to utilize them. Sandy Groom Meeks joined the MOC-Floyd Valley team as our technology integration specialist this year. She works tirelessly to assist staff members and students in developing these ever-important skills and mindset. We are making great strides in this area, and with the Teacher Leadership Grant in place next year, each building will also have building-level technology leader to assist Sandy in serving teachers.



Grit and a Growth Mindset

November 19th, 2014

Two related and very similar qualities can lead to success for all of our students. They are relatively simple concepts and parents and school personnel have frequent opportunities to teach, develop and reinforce them.

The first of these qualities is what Stanford professor and psychologist, Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset.” Those with a growth mindset believe that success comes from effort. On the other hand, people who believe that success comes from being born with the gift of intelligence or talent have a “fixed mindset.”

The second, related quality, is “Grit,” which University of Pennsylvania professor and psychologist Angela Duckworth defines as, “persistence, determination & resilience.”

Having a growth mindset is a great start. It gives us hope that we can affect the outcome of any situation. It gives us a reason to try and a reason to take risks. When we follow up with grit, we are able to deal with the disappointments and setbacks that inevitably come. We are able to focus on the benefits of the journey and not get discouraged when obstacles arise.

As parents, one of the most difficult things is watching our children struggle. Our instinct tells us to protect them from any pain and hurt that comes from failure. In some cases, we do need to step in, but in more, we need to put our energy into encouraging them to persist and believe that their efforts will make a difference. We also need to continually focus on learning—whether it is in a classroom, in relationships, or in an athletic or fine arts activity.

If our real expectation is that our children do their best, learn as much as they can, and act with character and integrity, we will praise and focus on those things and remove the focus and emphasis on a specific grade or an expectation for a certain amount of playing time. A’s and playing time are nice, but they are secondary to developing grit and adhering to a growth mindset.

MOC-Floyd Valley – ACT Results

September 24th, 2014

We recently received our District data regarding student performance on the ACT College Readiness Exam. Fifty-seven percent of the 2014 U.S. graduating class took the ACT. Nearly 65 percent of Iowa’s graduating class took the ACT. Over 74 percent of MOC-FV graduates took the ACT.

Iowa had the second-highest average ACT composite score among states that tested more than half of students in the Class of 2013. Iowa scored 22.2 out of a possible 36. Iowa’s average composite score is up from 22.1 last year. Minnesota was first in the nation, with an average composite score of 22.9. The national average was 20.9. The average ACT composite score for MOC-FV students was 24.3.

Twenty-six percent of U.S. students met all four of ACT’s college readiness benchmarks. Thirty-one percent of Iowa students met all four of ACT’s college readiness benchmarks. Forty-seven percent of MOC-FV’s students met all four of ACT’s college readiness benchmarks. The benchmarks specify the minimum scores needed to show a student has a 50 percent chance of earning a grade of B or higher, or about a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher, in a typical first-year college course in English, mathematics, reading and science.

The 22,943 Iowa students who took the ACT comprised approximately about 65 percent of last spring’s graduating class. Seventy-eight MOC-FV students took the ACT in 2013 & 2014. Prior to 2014, this number had increased each year for the previous five years.

Test U.S. Data 2014 Iowa Data 2014 MOC-FV Data 2014
English 20.3 21.5 24.4
Math 20.9 21.4 22.1
Reading 21.3 22.5 24.6
Science 20.8 22.2 24.0
Composite 21.0 22.0 23.9


Happy New Year!

August 24th, 2014

Thank you to parents and students for placing your trust in us as we begin a new school year. We at MOC-Floyd Valley CSD don’t take your trust—or our mission lightly. We want you to know that we will do our very best to meet your needs while “fostering learning, excellence and civic responsibility!”

Each year all of the employees of the school district gather for a kick-off breakfast. At this time, we meet new team members, recognize milestones of staff members who have served the District over time, and set our direction for the year. This year’s breakfast was like many others and the excitement about starting a new year with students was palpable.

During our breakfast, I shared four themes that I believe capture our approach to living and learning at MOC-FV. The first theme is “Creating a Culture of Yes.” Yes to learning, excellence, and civic responsibility. The box below contains a list of qualities or characteristics that everyone who is a part of the MOC-FV team will all strive to model and possess. There is no doubt that these qualities will help us fulfill our mission!

Focus on Learning, Positive Outlook & Demeanor, Clear/High Expectations, Quality Collaboration, Clear Communication, Servant’s Heart, Clear Focus, Positive/Consistent Modelling, Vision, Wisdom, Growth Mindset, Timely Support, High Engagement, Belief & Hope, Unconditional Respect, Empathy & Compassion, Open Mind, Flexibility, Sense of Humor, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control

Our second theme is “It’s not about me.” Human nature leads us to view things through the perspective of how we are affected. The more we are able to consider the perspectives and needs of others, the more we will be equipped to help, serve, challenge, teach, and learn with them.

Our third theme is “They’re all our kids.” Education is all about relationships. The more these relationships are interrelated and the more we all take ownership, the more likely we are to make sure no one falls through the cracks. There are two key words in this theme. The first is “ALL.” The second is “OUR.” We need to be aware of every student’s needs. We also need to remember that everyone on our team can help meet those needs.

The final theme is “All for one and one for all.” As we approach the school year, united in our mission, we will learn from and with each other, challenge each other, and support each other. As Helen Keller wisely said, “Alone we can do so little, together, we can do so much!”

Building for the future . . .

April 21st, 2014

Throughout the year, I have mentioned the great work of everyone involved in our strategic planning process.  This month, I would like to highlight the work of the Facilities and Resources to Support Learning Team, co-chaired by Gerald Van Roekel (School Board President) and Mark Gunderson (Athletic Director).  Other members included Brian De Kock, Seth Hulst, Carrina Huss, Ronda Pottebaum, Shannon Puttman, Bruce Schutt, Jennifer Vortherms, and Darlo Zeutenhorst.

The building principals and custodians led this team on guided tours of each of the school buildings in the District.  After concluding the tours, the team developed a list of potential projects and gave them a priority ranking.  From this information, a list of potential projects was developed for the School Board’s consideration.

Funding for these types of projects is generated through the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and the state-wide sales tax for school infrastructure.  In order to maximize the benefits of the various improvement projects for our students, we are now working with Piper-Jaffray to arrange a financing structure that allows us to complete the majority of the projects in the next two years and extend the payments over several years.

Below is a partial list of projects in the extended plan:

Technology Upgrades Boiler Systems
Paint & Resurface OCE Gym Renovate & Resurface MS Gym
Paint & Refinish Hospers Gym Upgrade HS Fire Alarm System
Build Science Room/Labs @ HS Upgrade Family & Consumer Science Area
Update & Repair Auditorium Update & Remodel HS Media Center
Update locker Rooms (MS & HS) Repair OCE Main Entrance
Update Baseball/Softball Area & Athletic Practice Fields Reclaim Classroom in Hospers & MS
Update classrooms throughout the District Playground Concrete @ Hospers
Ongoing General Maintenance, Roofing, Paving , etc . . . Preschool Expansion
Curb & Gutter work @ MS


While many of the smaller projects will be completed by our talented maintenance staff, we have employed Neumann Monson Wictor Architects to develop and manage the larger projects.