Principal Annie Smith checks in with kindergartner Ean Hobbs at Paton-Churdan Community School as he plays a game that teaches a key aspect of computer programming. The school’s “maker space” within its library has become a place where reading coexists with doing, with students encouraged to play around with everything from hot glue guns to iPads. HERALD FILE PHOTO

P-C wows on report card

Elementary school lands in top 2 percent


According to the Iowa Department of Education’s 2016 Iowa School Report Card assessment, Paton-Churdan Elementary earned an “Exceptional” rating — placing it in the top 2 percent of Iowa schools.

The state in 2015 started evaluating individual schools on six criteria — testing proficiency rates; closing the gap; college/career readiness; annual expected growth; attendance and staff retention.

Closing the gap refers to the difference in testing scores between general population students and students on Individualized Education Programs, free-or-reduced price lunch or the English Language Learners program.

Each school is given a rank between “priority” and “exceptional” based on its composite score.

All other Greene County schools were given a rank of at least “acceptable,” which includes about 35 percent of all Iowa schools.

Local scores included:
• Greene County High School: Acceptable
• Greene County Middle School: Acceptable
• Greene County Elementary: Commendable
• Greene County Intermediate: Unable to rank
• Paton-Churdan Jr./Sr. High: Acceptable
• Paton-Churdan Elementary: Exceptional

Kreg Lensch, who shares time as superintendent at both Paton-Churdan and Glidden-Ralston, says it comes down to meeting all students’ needs as best you can.

“I think both schools have the same philosophy and the same formula,” Lensch said. “Whether that’s kids that need extra help or kids that want to fly a little higher we try to meet their needs as best as you can. When we saw those scores, the teachers and staff were very pleased.”

Lensch credited P-C Principal Annie Smith with creating a positive learning atmosphere at the school.

“She’s definitely an idea person, and her ideas are always positive,” he said of Smith. “She has a way of looking at things a little differently.”

Greene County Superintendent Tim Christensen said he’d “obviously” love to get a top rating from the state, but he feels good about where the schools are at and more importantly where they’re headed.

“We do have conversations (about the results) and specific areas we’re looking to improve,” Christensen said. “The one category that, to me, we need to do a better job on is closing the gap.”

Christensen added that some of the numbers are arbitrary and the final rankings can be a bit deceiving.

For example, GCHS dropped a mere two points in total score, but that was enough to drop from “Commendable” in 2015 to “Acceptable” in 2016.

Exact point totals for categorical and cumulative scores can be found at

Post Secondary Readiness Report

The Iowa Department of Education also released its Post Secondary Readiness Report this week.

The report measures the number of graduates from each high school that move on to college or a trade program, how long they stick with it and whether they earn a degree of some sort.

Five years after graduation, 40 percent of GCHS graduates had earned some sort of educational award — while 48 percent had not earned a degree and are not enrolled in school.

The study also shows that just 16.3 percent of GCHS grads who did attend college took at least one remedial English or math course.

By comparison, 41.2 percent of college students from East Waterloo had to take at least one remedial course.

Of Paton-Churdan grads, 75 percent had earned some sort of degree five years after graduation and 33.2 percent of those students took at least one remedial course.

PSRR results can also be found at

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