EV preschool receives ‘A’
EV’s 4-year-old program makes state record after first year of receiving state grant
By ANDREA FURLONG
|English Valleys preschool teachers receive a certificate of special recognition April 8 from state representative Betty DeBoef for achieving a perfect score on the Iowa Quality Preschool Program Standards. EV preschool is the only preschool in the state of Iowa to meet all of the assessment’s 171 criteria. Pictured, from left, are Susan Schaefer, Stacy Axmear, Betty DeBoef, Renee Allison and Janice Leinen.|
In its first year of having its preschool assessed by the Iowa Quality Preschool Program Standards (IQPPS), English Valleys has achieved something no other school district has: A perfect score.
The IQPPS assessed the school’s 31-student 4-year-old preschool program based on interviews with parents, observations of preschool teacher Renee Allison and information contained in the school’s classroom portfolio, program portfolio, staff files and student files. English Valleys is the only school in the state of Iowa since the IQPPS were finalized in 2004 to meet all 171 of the test’s criteria. Criteria is separated into 10 areas: relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment of child progress, health, teachers, families, community, physical environment and leadership and management.
The IQPPS is an optional assessment available to most preschools, but it is required for preschools like English Valleys, that have received state grant money for their program.
State representative Betty DeBoef personally congratulated EV’s four preschool teachers − Renee Allison, Janice Leinen, Stacy Axmear and Susan Schaefer − at an English Valleys School Board meeting April 8, with a certificate of recognition signed by state legislators.
“As a grandmother of three little boys who’ve gone through the program, I think that’s quite something to be proud of,” DeBoef told the board.
Comments by the early childhood consultants, Mary Schertz and Annette Hyde, who conducted the IQPPS, revealed English Valleys staff made a good impression on the team.
“(Renee Allison) was a very competent and organized teacher. Both the classroom portfolio and the program portfolio were easy to navigate and gave a complete picture of the district’s preschool program.
“The teacher assistants in the classroom interacted appropriately with the children. All the staff communicated at their level and asked appropriate open-ended and probing questions. It was evident that the preschool program has strong administrative support, as well as strong support from AEA 10, CCRR, Head Start and Community Empowerment. The community is very supportive of the program, as evidenced by the field trips and class visitors,” the report read.
The report also praised the teachers for their open communication with parents.
“Parents interviewed were very positive about the program. There is ongoing communication between parents and staff through multiple means, including notebooks, e-mail messages, individual notes home, a weekly newsletter, phone calls and individual conversations. Parents are invited to visit the classroom any time.”
Elementary principal Amy Andreassen said she was confident the preschool program would do well on the IQPPS before the visit, but never expected a perfect score.
“I guess I was a little stunned. I knew we would do well, but I never anticipated getting a 100,” she said.
She continued, “We were striving for 100 percent. Our hope was that the state could come in and see all the good things we are doing here and not have any concerns about curriculum or environment or safety issues. We wanted our program to shine, and I think it did.”
The preschool started studying the IQPPS four years ago. Preparation in the past year included attending seminars and meeting with Grant Wood personnel, talking with other Iowa County preschools and consulting with Iowa County Empowerment Coordinator Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson. Through preparatory work, Andreassen said the school pinpointed the areas it needed to work on and made great improvements in two years’ time.
“We already had a good preschool in place and had the structure and the foundation in place. It was mostly reading through what the state was looking for from us, making sure we were in compliance with that and making sure that made sense for our preschool,” she said.
The preschool’s next challenge is improving its playground in order to meet state criteria. Due to new preschool standards, EV’s preschool playground equipment no longer meets state requirements. The school is fundraising for new play equipment for children five years of age and younger. For more information, please call (319) 664-3638.
UPDATED May 13, 2010 3:37 PM