Working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County, Indiana
An education initiative of the Community Foundation of DeKalb County

April 29, 2013 Learning Link Community Meeting Minutes

Written April 29th, 2013 by
Categories: Learning Link Community Meeting Minutes

Eastside Jr.-Sr. High School

April 29, 2013, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Present: Carrie Alday, Deb Argast, Molly, Abby Bishop, Dawn Bon Ami, Barbara and Scott Bushnell, Trina Caudill, Monica Cone, Jeff Burns, Megan Curtis, Pam Deetz, Jill DeVine, Beth Eis, Melissa Eshbach, Kay Finchum, Mark Franke, Ron Frickey, Wayne Funk, Alycia Gadson, Mr. and Mrs. Gadson, Tasha Getts, Sherry Grate, Sherry Hanchar, Julie Isbell, Brennen Kitchen, Rod Knox, Taylor Knox, Mark Levy, Doug Lockwood, Ken McCrory, Brad and Kendra McDaniel, Ian and Paula Mercer, Larry Moore, Karen Novinger, Wendy Oberlin, Becky Pfeffer, Carol Platt, Terry and Mary Ellen Rayle, Pam Shoemaker, Chuck Schmidt, Sonja Situm, Michael Slentz, Judy Sorg, Brie Sprunger, Chris Straw, Erin Strieter, Jen Stayer, Ellen Stuckey, Alyce Thompson, Julia Tipton, Matt Toth, Jeffrey Turner, Ryan Twiss, Tonya Weaver, Erik Weber, Marcia Weller, Diane Wilson, Jerry and Paula Yoder, Tanya Young, Holly Wright, Norman Yoder, Larry Yoder. Total: 68.

Welcome – Larry Yoder

Moderator and Learning Link Overview – Jeff Burns, Campbell & Fetter Bank

Vision: Working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County.

  • Burns announced that the purpose for getting together was to share the hard work being done throughout the county to improve the quality of life in DeKalb County and solicit audience questions, comments and suggestions to provide teams with direction for moving forward.
  • Burns shared the many organizations who have contacted Learning Link since 2010 seeking information about implementing the systemic model and approach to work.
  • Burns introduced Learning Link team reporters and the agenda for the working dinner meeting.

Team reports

Reporters were:

  • Early Childhood – Sherry Hanchar, Director, Butler Early Education
  • Kindergarten-12th grade education/3rd grade literacy – Brennen Kitchen, Principal, Riverdale Elementary; Carrie Alday, Literacy Coordinator at McKenney-Harrison Elementary
  • K-12/School-business partnerships – Chris Straw, Team Quality Services
  • Career Success Coalition (CSC) – Rod Knox, CSC Steering Team Leader
  • Adult Lifelong Learning/Education & Training – Jerry Yoder, Lean Enterprise Software Solutions
  • Adult Lifelong Learning/Parenting Education – Melissa Eshbach, Star Technologies

Group Discussion

Questions, comments and suggestions for moving teams forward ranged from whether there was definitive evidence that children who attended pre-school are more prepared for success in school, to what are the barriers to 100 percent of 3rd grade students reading at a 3rd grade reading level. Highlights by topic follow:

Early Childhood Learning

  • Are there studies that demonstrate that children who attend pre-school perform better throughout school? Sherry Hanchar responded that a child in the home with parents providing age-appropriate and enriching      experiences may be just as “ready” as the child who attends pre-school. Sorg added that the quality of the child care and education can make a significant difference.
  • In addition: Yes, there is evidence that demonstrates that a high quality early childhood experience has a lasting impact on a child’s success both in school and in life (See Pew Charitable Trust).
  • What are your results so far and what/how do you actually measure kindergarten readiness? Results to date: The 2011 baseline measure was 38% of children screened as “ready” in the 3 domains measured. The 3 domains that are measured include: academic, language and socio-emotional skills. In 2012, a single item (letter identification) on the screening was re-weighted and aligned with the U.S. Department of Education. Results in 2012 increased to 56% of entering kindergarten students prepared for success in school.
  • Was the difference due to tweaking the screening tool or actual change? Most of the increase, from 38% to 56%, can be being attributed to the change in the letter identification item on the screening tool. When we receive the 2013 numbers, we’ll have a more valid comparison than we had from 2011-2012. But keep in mind, it represents a different set of children.
  • What is the measurement tool you’re using for kindergarten readiness? A diverse team (comprised of kindergarten teachers, preschool teachers, childcare providers, school administrators, business  epresentatives and community members) developed a customized tool based on early learning and school-readiness research, experience with tools that had been used in the past, and common agreement. The tool covers skills in three domains: Social, Language and Academic. The tool is expected to evolve as new learning and Department of Education requirements change.
  • Yay and Woo-hoo, Alycia Gadson! The calendar of learning activities is well-designed, visually appealing and will be very useful to DeKalb County families.
  • Have you observed or tracked the performance of children who have taken KiPS compared to those who don’t. Is there a measurable improvement in scores? Due to the length of time required for pre- and post-assessments in year one, organizers of KiPS decided to forego this in year two, preferring to allow children      the time to learn and explore. Anecdotally, Brennen Kitchen, Principal at Riverdale Elementary, and Riverdale teachers, believe the children who participate in KiPS are better off when they start school. They plan to      collect some data this year. The program takes place at Butler Public Library in June. They are currently enrolling DeKalb Eastern’s entering kindergarten students. Call 260-868-2351.
  • How are you reaching out to parents about the opportunities available? How are you getting the word out and where are the participants coming from? As the result of a previous community meeting, Julie Wagoner, O.B. at DeKalb Health, now works with our early childhood team.
  • In addition: Wagoner and her team at DeKalb Health are putting together trimester packs of timely resources for each stage of pregnancy. These packs are being distributed to physicians for their parents-to-be. Learning Link has also published a brochure of ‘Parent Resources’, offering 37 program contacts. The brochure is distributed through physician offices and the hospital. It is also available online at Organizational leaders (Northeastern Center, Children First Center, WIC, Garrett-Keyser-Butler Head Start, churches, food pantries, YMCA, Mom Squad, DeKalb County pre-schools and childcare providers, etc.) have been made aware of its existence.
  • Where are participants coming from? Great question! We need to track where participants are coming from.

K-12/3rd Grade Literacy

  • What is the 3rd grade reading assessment? The ‘I-READ 3’ is the current measure (a state-mandated test of students’ reading ability in the Spring of 3rd grade). In 2010 and 2011, we used ‘benchmark reading levels’ for our 3rd grade reading assessment. However, we questioned its reliability from school to school. So in 2011, we discussed the possibility, pros and cons of switching the measure. After observation and obtaining input from teachers and administrators with experience using the new assessment (I-READ 3), team members agreed the I-READ 3 assessment was fair, administered consistently countywide, and data were easily accessible. Therefore, the change in measure was made in 2012.
  • When 2013 I-READ 3 data are made public (soon), we’ll have a valid comparison from 2012 to 2013. Note, however, that results from year to year still represent a different group of children.
  • Explain the efforts used to meet the reading needs of children of the lower socio-economic group. There are numerous efforts in the schools and community working to meet the reading needs of all children, low-income families and other socio-economic classes. Head Start and Early Head Start are examples of early childhood education programs specifically for children of low-income families. Several pre-schools offer student scholarships to low-income families. ‘DeKalb Reads’, a parent literacy workshop series, is offered at no cost to the parents of kindergarten students identified by teachers as striving to reach grade level and able to benefit. DeKalb County library programs offer reading support for children, and schools offer multiple reading interventions available to the children striving to reach grade level.
  • Why does the K-12th grade team concentrate on 3rd grade literacy? Will it concentrate on different grade/subject levels? There has been a great deal of research about the importance of students reading proficiently by 3rd grade and this predicting students’ future success. “Before 3rd grade, we teach children to read. After 3rd grade, children need to read to learn.”
  • In addition: This team recognized that they couldn’t address everything at once, so they prioritized reading at 3rd grade.
  • What needs are there to overcome to reach 100% of all children at reading level? While 100% is the vision, I’m not sure we can ever reach 100% of children reading at grade level. Reducing poverty, increasing maternal education levels, and providing more child care vouchers (state funds) and Head Start and Early Head Start slots (federal funds) would be beneficial.
  • Will we have a common measure for 3rd grade literacy? We currently have a common measure, the I-READ 3. Presently, we believe the I-READ 3 is our best option for measuring students’ reading levels countywide.
  • In addition: Working within the K-12 system will always present risks. Should legislators change their mind about the use of this test in Indiana, we’ll need to look at an alternative measure.
  • Do you think the increase in the percentage of 3rd graders reading at grade level can be credited to (1) different measurement tools? (2) True improvement? (3) other. We believe the increase in the percentage of 3rd graders reading at grade level from 2011 (73%) to 2012 (76%) was as true as possible; the same measure was used. Keep in mind each year reflects a different group of students. The measuring tool used was the same in 2011 and 2012.
  • In addition: The increase from January 2012 (76%) to Spring 2012 (83%) is not a valid comparison – different measures were used at different times of the school year. One could expect reading levels to increase from January to March.

K-12/School-business Partnerships

  • Is there a website for the school-business partnerships database? Yes, go to Click on K-12th grade/Community and Parent Resources.
  • What a cool idea to do awards to show appreciation to those who have volunteered their time and talents to further the mission of Learning Link.

 Career Success Coalition

  • How did you get the data of the percentage of students who access post-secondary course of study in 2010? You referred to it as “actual” of 5%. These data are from the Indiana Student Achievement Institute. The actual percentage, 5%, is drawn from data submitted by publicly funded, Indiana post-secondary education institutions.
  • In addition: LearnMore promises that efforts are underway to include more data from private Indiana colleges for a more accurate picture.

Adult Lifelong Learning/Education & Training

  • When is the next scheduled Career Fair? A date has not been scheduled.
  • What do you mean by under-employed? By under-employed, we mean a worker who is employed, but not in the desired capacity, whether in terms of compensation, hours, or level of skill and experience.
  • Perhaps the adult lifelong learning group should consider aligning goal #2 (4 year completion of college) with what institutions of higher learning are requiring. I believe IPFW pushes students to graduate in 6 years. If they don’t, the college is penalized by the legislature in decreased funding.

Adult Lifelong Learning/Parenting Education 

  • LOVE the promotional video and website. How do you share this information so it can be used by the community? We’re working on it, thinking in terms of getting the word to organizations working with families. If you have suggestions, this team would love to hear them.


  • Are Rod Knox’s and Jerry Yoder’s PowerPoint presentations available upon request? Love your interest. See attached presentation including the Career Success Coalition and the Adult Education & Training team.