First Person: Bernadette Coggins

Bernadette Coggins, newly elected Kyrene school board president

Proven standards used to assess learning in Kyrene Schools

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Editor’s note: Bernadette Coggins, who serves on the Kyrene School District Governing Board and has closely followed the work of new district superintendent Dr. Jan Vesely, offered the following commentary on Wrangler News correspondent Diana Whittle’s article describing the progress of Vesely’s initial 90-day audit of district challenges and opportunities.

As a longtime Kyrene Corridor resident, Kyrene parent and secondterm Governing Board member, I wanted to share my perspective on the results of a recent audit of the District.

The audit represents many years of hard work by the Board to ensure accountability and optimum use of the limited resources in Kyrene.

For a long time, we have had to do more with less in Kyrene, working diligently to hold the Administration accountable while keeping the focus on students.  I am proud that we in Kyrene took this bold step with an audit.

But while Kyrene continues to outperform other districts in student achievement, as measured by AzMERIT, not all students are achieving equally and that has been cause for concern.

The audit, conducted by Curriculum Management Systems, Inc. and led by Dr. Randall Clegg, is the first time that this level of scrutiny has been applied to the District’s systems of instruction.

The process was one designed specifically to assess the work of school districts.  It is based on concrete and proven standards of assessing productivity, efficiency and the existence of clear and valid learning objectives and the use of assessments to improve effectiveness.

Dr. Clegg and his impressive team of education experts have performed more than 500 such audits nationallyI have been vocal regarding some of my concerns the past few years and I am not surprised by some of the audit findings, as they reflect issues we have been working to address for some time.

The audit findings and recommendations touch on many of the issues outlined in the Superintendent’s Priorities, including the need to develop a curriculum management plan as well as a comprehensive student and program assessment plan.  I am encouraged that we now not only have the supporting evidence, but the leadership and commitment of Dr. Vesely and her team, to address these critical areas so that we can be sure that we are meeting the needs of ALL our students in Kyrene.

Dr. Vesely has already taken some important first steps.  Separate from the audit, she has conducted a “root cause analysis” of enrollment trends and achievement data.  As a result of the work, that analysis suggested a need to improve the responsiveness of our curriculum and learning services and to address the inconsistency in tiered interventions in our schools (interventions needed to help to students who are struggling below grade level).

It is this kind of committed action that will be required if we are to reinforce the standards of excellence in Kyrene.

We owe it to our community and more importantly to our students, to aspire to that level of greatness.

It has been an honor and privilege to represent the community as a member of the Governing Board, and my roots in Tempe run deep.  For over 15 years, I have worked side by side with many of you on PTOs and Site Council.

I have sat next to you at Tempe South Little League games, and volunteered my time in support of our community.  I am proud to have had three boys in Kyrene schools, two of them now attending ASU.

And my husband, Tim, attended Kyrene Middle School—the original KMS in a brick building where the District Office now stands.

So I am committed to once again rolling up my sleeves to do the hard work that will be required to take Kyrene to the next level of excellence.  As Jim Collins stated, “Good is the enemy of great.”

We will always strive to be “great” in Kyrene!

Coggins notes that her comments are not the representation of other board members.



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