FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

At Alburnett, we want to be able to provide all the necessary information to our students, and their parents. This page contains frequently asked questions and answers to each of them. Did not find the answer you were looking for? Just contact us!

Enrollment & Open Enrollment

Alburnett CSD is accepting applications that meet the proper deadline or qualification for late filing.

Open enrollment information, applications, and instructions are available on the Alburnett CSD website for the Iowa Department of Education website. If a parent or guardian wishes to open enroll their child(ren), they must:

  • Complete an application
  • Submit an application for each child in their family, and
  • Send the application to both the resident and receiving school districts on or before the established deadlines

Deadlines for application have been removed.

Alburnett CSD is not permitted to bring a bus into any surrounding school district to pick up students who open enroll to Alburnett. The district has designated a pick-up location at King of Kings Lutheran Church, located at 3275 N Center Point Road. For current pickup times or information about other possible pickup locations, please contact the district transportation director at 319-842-2488.

Approximately 35% of the students attending Alburnett CSD are open enrolled from other school districts.

Alburnett averages just above 50 students per grade level. Classes near or above 50 students are separated into three sections.

Graduation Requirements, Course Offerings, Students

Graduation requirements are approved by the Alburnett school board and can be found in Board Policy 505.5.

Students in 8th grade meet with the guidance counselor to go over their 4-year plan for high school. In this plan, all students are given the requirements to graduate from high school for each core area. As a high school student, they meet with the guidance counselor as a class to register for the classes that meet graduation requirements. If the student has more class scheduling questions, then the guidance counselor meets individually with the students to complete course registration.

A content standard is an academic learning goal that outlines what a student should know and be able to do. Each standard describes the knowledge or skill(s) that students are expected to learn. Each grade level has their own standards or group of standards. Ex:  4th grade Reading, 7th-grade math, 9-12 Social Studies. Click here to view the Iowa Core standards or search standards by subject/grade level.

For a very long time, very little about the structure of education changed. For the most part, everyone had the same general school experience. Because of this, we all share (or shared) the same mental model of what happened in school. Then research in the social sciences began emerging and picking up speed, and research around the impact of instructional practices increased - and then increased exponentially. The result - schools began to change based on research. But those not directly involved with school operations or educationally research logically and rightfully were left with lots of questions.

As most of us remember, before standards, textbooks were the key driver of how teachers decided what to teach and in what order. There is nothing wrong with textbooks, and many textbooks are still used as an instructional resource today. But as more and more content across more and more areas continued to be added to the curriculum, it became more evident that schools were being forced to teach “a mile wide and an inch deep.” In a very simplified answer, this is how and why standards were born. Educators and researchers came to understand that it was necessary to identify what was essential for students to know and that they must commit to a deeper understanding of those standards for all students. There is still good-to-know and nice-to-know content being taught in schools, but the goal is no longer to cover the “mile wide and inch deep” curriculum.

We teach them all, but not prioritize all the same. The research behind the Common Core states that it would take 23 years to teach all the standards to the same level. The fact is that we only have Kindergarten through 12th grade to teach standards. The school has hired highly qualified teachers to break down what each grade level needs to be taught to be successful through the years of school.

Standards are the same for all public schools in Iowa. Full implementation was expected in high schools by 2012-2013 and in K-8 by 2014-2015. What can vary between districts are which standards are considered a priority or essential.

When a student is new to the district, there are steps teachers take to determine which standards have not yet been met by the student. From there, a plan is developed to support student learning.

See section two of this document. Also included is more information on Iowa Core and standards.

Using kindergarten as an example, we use a combination of observations, conversations, and performance-based assessments. In this example, rarely do we do anything with paper and pencil because of the age of the children. With more informal (or formative) assessments, we use the information we gather to guide daily/weekly decision-making to help form where we go next with instruction. We ask ourselves, do we move on to a new concept? Do we stop to deepen understanding? Do we need to teach the information in a new way? With our more summative assessments at the end of the unit, we use the information to guide whether additional instruction is needed in a small group or individual setting to help intervene with a small group of children or even individual children to help fill gaps in understanding as we move on to a new unit. A vast majority of our assessing is done on a 1:1 basis. It takes longer but gives us more worthwhile information.  - Kara Paulsen (Kindergarten)

Using 6th grade as another example, we will know if a student is learning a standard by using formative assessments and considering how they influence the summative assessment. If the student's summative assessment matches the standard's proficiency criteria, then we will know that they are learning the standard.  - Bryce Cox (6th Science/Social Studies)

Homework is viewed as practice. Practice assignments are an opportunity for students to grow their knowledge and skills. Due to students’ grades being a representation of what they know and are able to do, assessing students on their first independent attempts at new content would not give a fair representation of what they know and are able to do at the end of a unit. 

Some teachers require all the homework from the unit to be done correctly to take the test, if they don't require it to take the test some will require you to have the homework correct to retake the test.  - Brooklyn Nafts (11th Grade)

The formative assignments leading up to the summative final are designed to practice each of the requirements individually and together as a whole as they might appear on the final summative. These formatives are also important in helping us to know how ready the students are for the summative and where students need more practice.  - Kim Maakestad (9-12 Spanish)

A “retake” or reassessments allows the students another opportunity to demonstrate mastery of a standard. This can look like the same assessment, or a different assessment that still measures the same standard. Retakes can be a paper/pencil assessment, a conversation with the student and the teacher, or a project that demonstrates mastery.

The district allows students to reassess because staff want to collect data on what students know and are able to do. Student skill levels are not always at their highest on a specific test day, so staff members understand the need for students to continue the learning process after a summative assessment. Students then reassess to show what they know and are able to do to prove that they have mastered the standard. The ability to retake an assessment (test) also aligns with real-world examples such as driving permit/license tests, SAT, ACT, and bar exams.

We are focused on ensuring students have the knowledge and skills to be successful in their lives outside of the classroom. Reassessment is used to make certain that students have mastered the essential skills and standards determined in each grade level. The ability to retake an assessment (test) also aligns with real-world examples such as driving permit/license tests, SAT, ACT, and bar exams. Allowing students an opportunity to reassess promotes non-academic behaviors such as learning how to prepare for an assessment, how to ask for help, and that failure is not an option.

A reassessment covers the same standard(s) as the original assessment, but it will consist of different questions. A reassessment could potentially be in a different format (originally paper/pencil, reassessment in project form).

Formative assessments are checks for understanding the teacher uses to guide the progression of the lessons. You could compare it to tasting your chili as you have it cooking in the crock pot to decide if it needs more seasoning before you serve it to your family. Summative assessments are the assessments given at the end of a set of lessons or a unit. Teachers use summative assessment data to determine if it is time to move on to a new unit, or if reteaching is needed. Using the chili comparison, it would be when you serve the chili to your family and find out if they like it so you know if you should serve it again as is or if adjustments will need to be made for them to enjoy it next time.

A rubric is a way for teachers to communicate expectations to students on a given assignment based on standards. The requirements of the assignment are made visible and clear so students know exactly what is needed in order to master the standard. The rubric is used to provide students feedback on their work.

We have created rubrics for each standard that specifically lays out the 4, 3, 2, and 1 criteria, but in summary, a 4 in kindergarten means a deep, consistent, and independent understanding of a concept that can be applied in all settings.  A 3 is a skill that a child has grasped well, but occasional teacher support is needed.  A 2 is where the understanding is present, but teacher support is needed more consistently, and a 1 is where teacher support/guidance is needed constantly.  Many of our standards in kindergarten start with the language "With teacher guidance and support....", so that concept is the backbone of our rubrics.  - Kara Paulsen (Kindergarten)

1st Grade Rubric

Students will review the learning associated with the standard. The review will happen with the teacher in a variety of settings - during class, during advisory, in small groups at the table in the classroom, before school, after school. The goal is to ensure students master the standard. Once teachers have collected enough evidence that the student is ready for the reassessment they will issue the retake opportunity. This can look like the same assessment, or a different assessment that still measures the same standard. Retakes can be a paper/pencil assessment, a conversation with the student and the teacher, or a project that demonstrates mastery.

Teachers use their data to determine next steps when a student is meeting a standard. If most of the class has met the standard, then they will move on to the next. If a few students have already met a standard, they may choose to deepen the complexity of the standard for those particular students.

A full description of Advisory is available in the Advisory Information Summary.

Financial Literacy or Personal Finance is learning about life outside of high school. The amount of information that we have available to us when we graduate high school can sometimes be overwhelming. We know that there is not a lot of training on this information for students so we try to give that to them here in school before they graduate. We cover everything from checking accounts, savings accounts, budgeting to investing or paying for college (if that is their path). We also talk about insurance or buying a home or looking at a financial career. There is an opportunity for the students to learn about different aspects of being an adult that many of us did not have the opportunity to do. We use the curriculum built by Next Gen Personal Finance that lays out a semester course for us. We are looking at using Junior Achievement to come in and provide some lessons as well.  -Micheal Lafler (Business)

Students in grades K-5 are taught financial literacy through a partnership with Junior Achievement. JA volunteers provide lessons and activities that students do to learn financial literacy skills.

In FCS, financial literacy is more heavily integrated:

  • 7th Grade-JA (6 lessons)
  • 8th Grade FCS-Career exploration paired with all students going to the Financial Literacy Fair where they go through a budget and meet with a financial advisor
  • Child Development-Budgets for the costs of a child in their first year
  • World of Work-Careers, how we get paid, benefits (401k, pension, etc.) - LaRae Arment (FCS)

Financial Literacy and Personal Finance classes are also provided in high school. The state of Iowa requires this course in order for students to graduate high school.  281--Iowa Administrative Code 12.5(17)(d) 

In the fall and spring, the secondary principal will send a spreadsheet with all teachers names that are linked to a Sign Up Genius.  Parents are welcome to meet with all their students' teachers or individual teachers. The way parents will know this information is to use JMC. JMC is the area in which you can check your students' grades and other school information.

You can expect teachers to communicate through email and phone calls. They may also communicate with you through different educational apps such as SeeSaw or Google Classroom. They may use a private Facebook page as well to deliver important happenings or announcements.  The type of communication varies from teacher to teacher or by grade level based on what delivery method works best for that particular group of students or parents.

Iowa BIG is a high school program designed to help you lead your own learning journey and discover your gifts, talents, and interests. BIG is a place where you get to learn through working on authentic projects in our community with community leaders. At BIG, you learn not only the content and standards in courses, but how to get along in the world and build the skills to make you “present-and-future-ready.”

BIG is a program open to all students. Does your student enjoy hands-on learning? Are they hoping to earn a scholarship for college? Are they bored or unsure of what to do after high school? If you answered yes to any of those questions, BIG is the right fit for your student!

BIG is about real-world application. You get to see and experience your classroom learning as it lives in actual practice through real business and community projects. BIG teaches the course standards as well as assess essential 21st century skills. Learners drive the learning and are not limited by the curriculum. Students own and control their learning.

Parent Information Letter

Profile of a Graduate

In 2019, the district enlisted the help of a community and employee committee to develop the Profile of a Graduate. The committee studied state and national employment data, and conducted a gap analysis on future readiness of Alburnett graduates. The committee identified a central mission to assist everyone in “living our best lives with purpose and happiness,” and identified a key pathway as “we seek out authentic opportunities to practice one step beyond the edge of our comfort zone.” Five key characteristics were identified: community-minded citizens, emotionally intelligent people, people who lead, effective communicators, and lifelong learners.

Profile of a Graduate

Currently, teams are compiling indicators for success for each section of the Profile of a Graduate. This is a work in progress that will continue throughout this school year.

ReachWell App

The Alburnett ReachWell App is available in the app store of the user's smartphone. New users will search for and select the Alburnett school(s) to which they wish to be connected.

Using the resources icon, select Menus and Pay to be redirected to JMC. In JMC, select Lunch. To make a payment on a mobile phone, users must select Desktop view from the bottom of the screen.

Option 1

  1. Open ReachWell App to home page.  
  2. Click on the upper right corner white outline of a person's upper body
  3. Click on settings
  4. Click Notifications to the off position.

Option 2

  1. Email administrator to take you off the system.

Each building followed will produce a message. Current programming does not allow for these messages to be combined into one message.

Schedule & Facilities

All current calendars are available on our Calendar page of the district website.

For a regular school day, we start at 8:20 and dismiss at 3:23. Busses leave at 3:30.

For a 1:00 dismissal day, we start at 8:20 and dismiss at 1:00. Busses leave at 1:10.

All district doors are locked when school is in session. All visitors are granted access to the building using a camera/intercom system connected to the building offices.

The Alburnett district uses an online reservation system. Those wishing to make a request can find the form on the Resources page of the district website.

School Board

The school board, when gathered together as a governing body, is responsible for making policy for its own governance, for employees, for students, and for school district facilities. It is the responsibility of the board to select its chief executive officer, the superintendent, to operate the school district on the board’s behalf. This includes carrying out board policy, formulating and carrying out rules and regulations, and to handle the administrative details that support and are consistent with board policy. Individual board members are expected to a board-approved Code of Ethics policy, 204.

School board members are elected to four-year terms.

Individuals interested in board service are encouraged to begin by attending board meetings and asking questions of current board members and the superintendent. Additional resources are available from the Iowa School Board Association website.

The Alburnett school board meets every month on the third Monday of each month and as needed for Special Board Meetings or Work Sessions.

Closed sessions of the board are rare. The public is allowed to attend all board meetings unless the agenda specifically states the session is closed, and may only be for the following reasons:

  • Discuss or review of records authorized by state law to remain confidential
  • Discuss strategy with legal counsel for matters in litigation
  • Discuss contents of a licensing examination or whether to initiate licensee disciplinary investigations
  • Conduct a hearing to suspend or expel a student
  • Discuss a decision rendered in a contested case
  • Avoid the disclosure of specific law enforcement matters
  • To evaluate the professional competency of an individual
  • To discuss the sale or purchase of real estate
  • To discuss information contained in records in the custody of the governmental body that are confidential

Board meetings are meetings of the board in the presence of the public. Public participation happens only during Public Hearings or as designation on the board agenda.

Board action items can vary, but fall within the parameters of the board’s role. The board does not serve as an administrative body, but rather functions at a policy level.

All board agendas are published on the Board of Education page of the district website the Friday prior to a Regular Board Meeting or at least 24 hours prior to a Special Board Meeting or Work Session.

Concerns are best addressed at the most direct level. 

Concern Flowchart

Board members are expected to conduct themselves professionally and in a manner fitting to their position. A full list of expectations are included in the board approved Code of Ethics included in board policy 204.

The board annually evaluates the superintendent. All other personnel evaluations are conducted by the employee’s direct supervisor.

Student Activities

There are many organizations and activities available to Alburnett Elementary students. While typically these are not run by the school, oftentimes communication may come from the school regarding them. At the elementary level there are opportunities to participate in 4H, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, Archery, Wrestling, Basketball, Baseball/Softball, and Football. 

Student Information Systems - JMC

The secondary school produced an informational video on how to use the view progress reports in the parent portal - JMC Progress Report - Grades. In this video, you can see what the progress report will look like for graded material and practice work in the formative assessment area. Parents will be able to see the calculated grades and how their students did in each graded area. Parents will also see how many times and how they did on practice work through formative assessments. 

Parents can expect to see grades, lunch accounts balances, and attendance. 

When we reviewed the 3 major student information systems available to schools, we rated JMC high on: 

  • ease of use when trained in the use
  • response to customer service through phone or email

Technology

Alburnett is a one-to-one district, but it looks different for different grade levels. Kindergarten through 5th grade have enough devices to be one-to-one, but they are organized on classroom carts. Students are not assigned a specific device. Sixth through 12th graders are assigned their own device (Chromebook) and are responsible for taking care of and keeping the device with them for the duration of the school year. All devices are turned in to the school for summer maintenance unless approved by the building principal.

Alburnett uses software that alerts us of suspicious activity, inappropriate searches/websites, harmful searches/websites and strictly stays in line with the Children's Internet Protection Act(CIPA). This information can be located at https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/childrens-internet-protection-act

When a flag is found or alerted, we notify the student and the Elementary or Secondary principal of this action. For those that may be repeat violators, the student will lose access to their Chromebook and account until IT is notified that the accounts can be released, or until the parents are contacted for a resolution. As needed sites are identified initially as appearing to go against CIPA, the site may be approved by either the principal and/or the Superintendent. Even with security and notification software, concerning content may slip through the cracks. In these situations, once identified by either another student, staff, and/or parents, we take immediate action.  - TJ West (IT Department)

We recognize that many students have cell phones. At the elementary level, students with cell phones must keep them in their backpack during the school day. Additional information is available in the Middle/High School Cell Phone Policy.

At the elementary school, please contact the principal and the student’s teacher to arrange school work when a student will be gone. 

At the secondary level, parents can see what is happening at all times through Google Classrooms and videos from class. Teachers are using a SWIVL to record the class in order to help students gain an at-home understanding of what they missed in class. The videos will either be in the Google Classroom or on the teacher's website. To gain access to your student's Google Classroom, please use your student's username and password to see the information from their classes.

Students can access their school Gmail accounts from other devices, or use school devices at home while on personal internet sources. 

The IT managers get notifications that are able to be seen remotely and can be handled outside of school hours. All cases are handled on a case by case situation. All of these restrictions and safety measures are in place regardless of the internet access they use or device that they're using their school email address. None of the safety measures or restrictions apply to personal email accounts.  - TJ West (IT Department)

Other

Fees can be paid through JMC or in person at the school.

To drive a bus, you must have a Class B CDL with air brake, passenger, and school bus endorsements on your driver's license.  

The school offers free training if you are interested in becoming licensed to drive a school bus!

Medication shall be administered when the student's parent or guardian (hereafter "parent") provides a signed and dated written statement requesting medication administration and the medication is in the original, labeled container, either as dispensed or in the manufacturer's container.  The parent provides for the safe delivery of the medication to and from school. The parent will be notified when more medication is needed and when to pickup unused or expired medication.

A small amount of analgesic over-the-counter medications are available in the school health office including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antacids, and cough drops for minor ailments.  Permission allowing the school nurse or designated qualified staff member to provide these medications for the student will be completed yearly by the student's parent during the e-registration process.

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