ANSLEY - - Proudly displayed above the main entrance to Ansley Public Schools, is the slogan "Enter here to grow in wisdom." It is a philosophy the staff and administration of the school take very seriously - and last week they discovered just how much that commitment has paid off.
Early last week results of the state's standardized testing, Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA), were released. Several schools in the area did very well in the testing, but none were more pleased with the results than the folks at Ansley school. Out of 249 schools across the entire state of Nebraska, Ansley scored 32nd in writing, 12th in math, 11th in reading - and 1st in science!
"This was definitely a pleasant surprise for us," says Ansley Public Schools Superintendent Mike McCabe.
The tests were administered to students in grades 3 through 8, and grade 11, last Spring. McCabe explains that NeSA testing was implemented in the state following a push from Gov. Heineman, indicating he would like to see where everyone in the state ranks - regardless of school size.
While students at Ansley school excelled in every category, the really good news is that the test results showed students across the state scored higher on their reading and math scores than in previous years. This was the first year for NeSA testing in science and writing.
Nearly three of every four Nebraska students, or 74.2 percent, are meeting or exceeding state reading standards, compared to 68.6 percent in 2010. The new mathematics test results show 67.4 percent of the students tested proficient, compared to 62.8 percent in 2011.
"Nebraska teachers and administrators will be pleased to see a growing number of students meeting the new, more rigorous learning expectations and scoring proficient on tougher tests," said Education Commissioner Roger Breed. "Students are making progress, and we attribute that to Nebraska teachers who have a long history of helping their students meet higher learning expectations."
Science standards as well as the state's science test have been revised, increasing the rigor of the standards and the tests. This makes the accomplishment of Ansley students scoring high enough to rank 1st in the state on the science tests that much greater!
The goal of the tests, according to the Nebraska Department of Education, is to ensure Nebraska students are career and college ready by the time they graduate from high school.
"What this (NeSA testing) does is show us the progression of the students through the years - and that's a good thing," says McCabe.
McCabe says in the Ansley school, teachers try to keep the kids more involved in the classroom. He says a great deal has changed in the education system during his career, but says those changes are positive. "Our kids are getting a lot better education," McCabe adds.
The results of the NeSA testing were released in the state's annual State of the Schools Report. After reviewing the report, McCabe gathered his staff together to share the results. The school then had a special "assembly" in the gym last Wednesday, where the results were announced to the student body.
"We started with the writing results and worked our way up," says McCabe. "With each higher ranking the students cheered a little louder. And when we announced the first place in science everyone cheered very loudly!"
All the staff, administration and students at Ansley Public School are proud of their accomplishments on the testing - but also realize the bar has now been set. McCabe says his staff is committed to maintaining this quality of education at Ansley school.
Meanwhile, a celebration is being planned at the school. McCabe says some time before Christmas the school plans to host a special event celebrating the students' accomplishments. The student council is currently working on ideas for the celebration, along with the faculty committee. One suggestion will be selected and implemented from the student council ideas. McCabe has promised to let us know when a date for that celebration is decided.