“These are the results of dedicated individuals working with children,” she said.
Olson also asserted the district has a commitment to students’ physical and mental wellbeing. According to student responses to the Iowa Youth Survey, more than 30 percent said it would be easy to get prescription medications in their neighborhood and 23 percent of 11th grade students have seriously thought about committing suicide.
“As responsible adults we need to make sure students know it is not OK to treat others poorly,” Olson said. “I want you to be cognizant of the signs of hopelessness and loss. We need to hear and be aware. And don’t be afraid to be involved.”
District staff also works to thwart indicators commonly tied with lower student achievement. Olson said the district is ensuring success by expecting every student to learn at high levels and focusing on individual student’s growth. Clinton also is seen as a leader in the region for its use of the response to intervention system to ensure student success, she said.
The district has the lowest level of special education student enrollment in a decade, at 16.6 percent. Clinton is closing the achievement gap between special education and general education students, Olson explained.
A little more than 60 percent of the district’s students qualify for free and reduced lunch based on their family’s income levels. Although Clinton’s free and reduced level is well above the state average of 38 percent, Olson said a student’s economic background cannot serve as a crutch for levels of academic success.
“It’s not an excuse for student achievement. We must give you kids the best education we can give them because that is the best way we can counteract the effects of poverty,” Olson said.
Olson detailed a number of achievements worth celebrating at Clinton High School including the 10 percent increase in students in the 3.0 club, the 58 percent decrease in course failures, the 100 percent increase in the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and the 5 percent graduation rate increase.