Leading Learning

Dr. Anne Lundquist, Chief Officer of Academic Services

  • An Overview of the Ankeny K-3, 2:1 Initiative

    Posted by Anne Lundquist on 3/27/2019

    Keeping up with evolving technology is essential to success in today’s world. At Ankeny Schools, we are committed to ensuring every learner’s ability to grow alongside technology. We believe the key to a successful relationship with technology begins by introducing and nurturing technical skills in kindergarten through grade three (K-3).

    Male student works on a Chromebook device

    The Ankeny “K-3, 2:1 Initiative” began implementation in early 2019 and is based on the same principles as the 1:1 Initiative, but with a few key differences. Under the 1:1 Initiative, each student in fourth through twelfth grade receives their own Google Chromebook device. In the K-3, 2:1 Initiative, however, two K-3 students share one Chromebook device. 


    When deciding upon the implementation of the K-3, 2:1 Initiative, Ankeny’s technology professionals took into consideration the developmental stages of children at various ages. Children are heavily involved in group work at the K-3 level and are learning concepts through an interactive, hands-on approach. Sharing a device between two students fosters collaboration, promotes communication, and encourages respect.


    The convertible aspect of the Chromebook allows for seamless transition between laptop and tablet mode. This adaptability is perfect for small children to start with the touch screen, develop usage skills, and finally progress to the keyboard when ready. Having a touch screen is important at the K-3 level because it ensures easy navigation. There is no need to search for lettered keys and no heavy focus placed on advanced spelling or reading.


    All in all, the Chromebook fits perfectly with the ideas behind the K-3, 2:1 Initiative. At its core, the device is built to be fully shareable because information is stored on the cloud instead of on the device. As a result, multiple users are able to sign in and access personal files, documents, settings, and more on the same device.


    The goal of Ankeny Schools’ K-3, 2:1 Initiative is to create more empowered and self-directed learners. We are confident this effort will develop and enhance the technical skills of young learners, which will be invaluable, as technology continues to evolve in the years to come.



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  • Changing the Conversation Surrounding Student Learning

    Posted by Anne Lundquist on 1/28/2019

    Throughout the year, we have been highlighting Ankeny Schools’ plan to implement a Standards-Referenced Grading approach in our middle and high schools. Moving forward, teachers will provide additional information on student performance in relation to Grade Level Standards on a report card, in addition to letter grades and grade-point average (GPA).

    Spiral notebook with 4 reasons for Standards-Referenced Grading approach. Bottom border is of rulers, scissors, and apples.

    In Ankeny Schools, we believe all students can learn at high levels. In a traditional educational system, only students who learned quickly were rewarded. While these learners continuously excelled, others lost self-confidence and may not have met their potential. If students learned at a slower pace, they were not reaching the same high academic benchmarks. Ankeny is moving away from this system to accommodate each learner’s needs and pace, by implementing a  Standards-Referenced Grading approach that emphasizes multiple teaching methods to aid students’ learning.


    Today’s learners need to demonstrate more than just speed in finding answers. Instead, they must demonstrate innovative problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The mission of Ankeny Schools is to prepare students for “a lifetime of personal success.” The most effective way to help students do this is to establish the necessary foundation through Standards-Referenced Grading practices.


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  • Adopting a Standards-Based Mindset

    Posted by Anne Lundquist on 12/12/2018

    In a previous blog titled "Ankeny's 'True North'", we discussed Ankeny’s “True North” statement and how it affects student learning. The practices we discussed last time are part of a larger context of a “Standards-Based Mindset.” Take a look at the graphic to learn more about what a Standards-Based Mindset entails.


    standards-based mindset

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  • Fresh Start for Success

    Posted by Anne Lundquist on 11/28/2018

    Ankeny Community School District’s community engagement department supports Project Fresh Start, a program piloted by Volunteer Dave Kissinger in 2004. After five years as a teacher and 29 years as a counselor at Ankeny Schools, Kissinger retired and proposed an idea to disperse school supplies to Ankeny students who could not afford them. His plan went through the Education Task Force, a group made up of educators and members from the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce. The group accepted the proposal and began work on a program called Days of Giving to give school supplies away for the 2005-2006 school year.


    In its first year, Days of Giving distributed 170 backpacks filled with school supplies. This year, volunteers came together to distribute 653 backpacks in four hours to Ankeny’s kids. The program was so successful that there are many backpacks and supplies leftover that will likely be distributed throughout the year or carried over to next year’s supply giveaway.


    Days of Giving sparked a system of charitable services called Project Fresh Start, all originally organized by Kissinger. The most recent of Kissinger’s projects, in partnership with former school board member George Tracy, is Fresh Start for Success. The program launched Friday, September 7 of this year. Students with a job or desire to obtain a job can now apply to receive a voucher to buy the clothing they need to pursue their goals.


    “What we want to do is give them a fresh start,” Kissinger said. “These kids are great kids. They just have some need.”


    School Supplies

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  • Ankeny's Community Engagement Department: Rebranding

    Posted by Anne Lundquist on 11/9/2018

    Last year, Ankeny Community School District’s community education department rebranded to become community engagement. The department works within Ankeny schools to provide resources for students and opportunities for the community. For Community Engagement Manager Kim Moyle and the department’s advisory council, this was a significant rebranding.


    “We’re not just about educating the community,” Moyle said. “It’s about, how do we get the community involved?”


    Moyle said that too often, the focus of the department and the community’s perception of the work they do has been only on the courses they facilitated. Moyle said that the advisory council wanted to shed light on their efforts of serving Ankeny and getting people involved. The rebranding to community engagement better encompasses all the department has to offer.


    The program provides and facilitates a number of classes, services, and supplemental education programs. Classes are available for all ages, from STEM classes for elementary students to fitness classes for adults.


    The department’s learner-centered programs and services connect with business, civic, and community organizations to create lifelong enrichment and service opportunities to help strengthen the Ankeny community through its students - the future workforce.


    Another area of focus is matching resources from local not-for-profit organizations with the district’s students. It is the goal of community engagement to make sure every student can succeed. No matter a student’s social or financial barriers. Moyle wants to send students out the doors of the high school at their very best, and into a situation where they can thrive and better their world.


    “Our bottom line is helping students. Students first and foremost, and then we want to be a resource for the community,” Moyle said.


    Community Engagement Department


    Left to right: Tricia Fogarty, Kim Moyle, and Heidi Palkovic of the district's Community Engagement department.

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  • Ankeny's "True North"

    Posted by Dr. Anne Lundquist on 10/17/2018

    The secondary buildings in Ankeny have been working to improve communication to students and parents regarding students’ academic strengths and areas of improvement, leading us to the benefits of Standards-Referenced Grading. Our journey to learn more about the benefits of Standards-Referenced Grading Practices caused us to examine many of our current practices.


    One result from that assessment was the separation of academic standards from work habits/behavior standards. By separating and reporting them separately, it has provided the opportunity for teachers to focus on the content and skills where a student needs additional extensions or support, and on the work habits or behavior standards they might need additional support with in order to be successful. Both are critical to student success, and so focusing on both will help our students be successful in college and/or a career. Having said that, it is not enough to just change the information students and parents receive; rather it is our duty to strengthen our curriculum, instruction and assessment practices as well. That led us to create a statement called our “True North”.


    “True North”


    Ankeny Community Schools believes Standards-Referenced Grading practices is the shared commitment and partnership between students, parents, and teachers to provide high quality, consistent curriculum, instruction, assessment, and communication practices. When this commitment is kept, it will result in a clear and accurate picture of a student’s learning over time.


    Let’s think about what that means. What is meant by a “True North?” The “True North” is agreed upon principles and practices regarding what is best for students in order to move their learning forward. Those principles and practices are a commitment from the school district to students and parents. What are the principles and practices we are committed to in order to move student learning forward?


    Our “True North” includes principles and practices that lead to an accurate picture of student learning. In addition, they include our guiding philosophy and purpose for adopting a standards-referenced mindset. The purpose of grading is to


    the purpose of grading


    Ankeny administration and teachers are committed to providing a high quality education to all students. The pledge to parents outlined in the “True North” statement cements the belief we have that all students can learn at high levels when provided the necessary feedback and supports to demonstrate their learning. If you want to learn more about the practices discussed above, do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. Mary Cooksley, Director of Secondary Curriculum and Services.

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  • Welcome to Summit

    Posted by Anne Lundquist on 8/6/2018

    As education continues to change, the traditional path to graduation can be a challenge for some students. That’s where Summit comes in. This intensive secondary intervention program, previously known as the Alternative Learning Center, is intended for students who are at risk to not earn a high school diploma.


    Summit logo


    Summit has proven to help students who need extra support achieve success. In fact, the program celebrated a record-breaking number of graduates in 2018!


    Jeremy Braden, Summit’s new principal, has a passion to ensure all students are successful and receive the best educational experience. Mr. Braden and the Summit team provide personalized education plans tailored to fit an individual’s educational needs and career interests.


    Summit is located at the Neveln Building (406 SW School Street) on the second floor and is open from 6:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Staff can be reached at (515) 289-3944 during those hours.

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  • Ankeny Summer Academy

    Posted by Sharon Ingebrand on 6/28/2018

    Approximately 475 people attended a week of professional learning, known as Ankeny Summer Academy, on June 11-14 at various schools in Ankeny. Ankeny Summer Academy offers faculty a chance to learn from one another, from administrators, and from outside experts.


    “[Ankeny Summer Academy] gives teachers time to collaborate and share ideas,” said Jessica Garland, Prairie Trail Elementary School fifth-grade teacher.


    Attendance at Ankeny Summer Academy increased by over 400 percent from last year. Participants engaged in more than 6,300 total hours of learning throughout the week.


    “It’s exciting to see a large number of Ankeny teachers continuing their learning during the summer, which will have a huge impact on students during the fall,” said Terrace Elementary School Principal and attendee Matt Dunsbergen.


    Two teachers read a document


    Using state-allocated funding, Ankeny was able to pay more than $254,000 to the 370 teachers to attend the professional learning opportunity.


    The week included more than two dozen different courses for faculty to attend. Courses varied from “Gathering and Analyzing Data to Improve Student Learning,” taught by Sandi Rankin, business and technology teacher, to “Meeting the Needs of All Learners,” taught by Director of Special Education Dr. Carolyn Manard.


    Chief Officer of Academic Services Dr. Anne Lundquist and Director of Elementary Education Dr. Amy Dittmar taught a two-day course about collective efficacy. Read more about collective efficacy and the course on Dr. Lundquist's blog.


    Ankeny Summer Academy received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, including 100 percent of participants who agreed or strongly agreed that the course was valuable to their work in Ankeny Schools.


    We are excited to see how this learning from Ankeny Summer Academy plays out in our students' success this coming school year. 


    *Guest writer Dr. Sharon Ingebrand, Director of Professional Learning and Continuous Improvement, coordinated Ankeny Summer Academy.

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  • Using Collective Efficacy to Influence Student Outcomes

    Posted by Dr. Anne Lundquist on 6/26/2018

    When teams of individuals share the belief that through their unified efforts they can overcome challenges and produce intended results, groups are more effective.


    Nearly half a century ago, Albert Bandura, a Stanford University psychologist, named this interesting pattern in human behavior “collective efficacy.” In teaching, collective efficacy refers to a group’s shared belief that through their collective action, they can positively influence student outcomes. In other words, when teams of educators believe they are capable of making a difference in students’ lives, it happens!


    More than two dozen of our faculty gathered on June 13-14 at Southview Middle School during Ankeny Summer Academy to learn about collective efficacy. The two-day course gave us a chance to collaborate with teachers directly, answer questions, and share ideas.


    A teacher takes notes during Dr. Lundquist's presentation.  Teachers talk to each other during a break-out session


    “I believe one of the most important aspects of collective efficacy is the critical role educators play in creating a safe, positive learning environment for our students where everyone feels connected and believes they have the potential to achieve high expectations,” said Director of Elementary Education Dr. Amy Dittmar, who joined me in leading the course.


    Efficacious schools are more likely to:

    • Accept challenging goals,
    • Demonstrate stronger efforts, and
    • Persist in efforts to overcome difficulties and succeed.


    Professor John Hattie and his team have presented collective teacher efficacy as the number one influence related to student achievement. Collective teacher efficacy is greater than three times more powerful and predictive of student achievement than socioeconomic status, according to Hattie. It is also more predictive than prior achievement, home environment, parental involvement, and motivation.


    “The research shows that collective efficacy has a 1.57 effect size as a factor to influence student achievement,” Dr. Dittmar said. “It is so important for everyone in our organization to have confidence in our students’ abilities and that what they do does make a difference.”


    Graphic showing what matters most in raising student achievement.

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  • What does Standards-Referenced Grading look like in Ankeny?

    Posted by Dr. Anne Lundquist on 5/24/2018

    Our goal in Ankeny's Academic Services department is that all students learn the content, not just the ones who can learn within established timelines. Ankeny Community School District (ACSD) is on a journey toward implementing Standards-Referenced Grading (SRG) practices. Doing so will ensure all students receive a unified experience in the delivery of high-quality curriculum, instruction, assessment, and communication practices. Implementing high-quality standards-referenced grading practices assists in achieving the mission of Ankeny Schools.


    In recent years, it became clear to us that there was a distinction between standards-referenced grading and standards-based grading. Standards-referenced is the practice of making sure students learn what they were taught and achieve the expected standards within their grade level course. Standards-based is the practice of meeting a defined standard for “proficiency” and immediately progressing to the next grade-level standards. The way this plays out in our district aligns us more closely with standards-referenced grading.


    Infographic depicting the differences in standards-referenced and standards-based practices  

    (View Larger


    Simply put, a “standard” is a generic learning target that does not specify activities, texts, or materials. Standards also indicate the grade level in which students should be able to achieve these targets. For example, a high school grade level literacy standard might be:


    • Students will read closely to determine what a text means and make logical inferences.


    Standards-referenced grading will be “standard work” in Ankeny in the next few years. Standard work requires clear expectations – or targets – for buildings, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), and individuals to meet. Practices are guided by an innovation configuration map organized by four essential questions:


    1. What does curriculum look like in the SRG system of ACSD?
    2. What does instruction look like in the SRG system of ACSD?
    3. What does assessment look like in the SRG system of ACSD?
    4. What does communication look like in the SRG system of ACSD?


    The map is meant to guide and facilitate self-assessment, reflection, goal-setting, and professional growth. Current reality on the map might change and evolve, but the desired state remains the same – strive to become established in best standards-referenced grading practice.

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What's Academic Services Reading?

  • "The use of a balanced assessment system has the potential of increasing student learning – involving students in assessment is powerful and will provide accurate evidence of student learning."

    -Dr. Mary Cooksley, Director of Secondary Education