ARMA — Arma School District was recently recognized for its postsecondary success. 

The district received the Commissioner's Award from Dr. Randy Watson, Commissioner of Education for Kansas, for being above the standard deviation in postsecondary success.

According to Arma School Counselor Beth Gabern, the state used to award schools based on state assessments. Now they are focusing on goals. The Commissioner's Award is based on the district’s postsecondary effectiveness rate by looking at how many of the district’s students are going to college, completed college or other certifications two years after they graduate high school, Gabern said. 

The state determines the effectiveness rate, taking into account things like socioeconomic status of students in the district, the number of students enrolled in special education programs and the number of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program. 

Based off of numbers from 2013 and 2017 (the most recent data), the number of students who received a certificate, graduated college or enrolled in college two years after high school has doubled to 40 percent, Gabern said. The district was expected to be at 37 percent and the district has exceeded the state expectations by 3 percent. 

Northeast High School Principal Russ Cramer and Gabern said they believe the district’s partnerships with area college programs and the Southeast Kansas Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) of Crawford County is one of the reasons why the district’s postsecondary success has grown. According to Cramer, this partnership aligns with the district’s school redesign. 

“One of the emphases of school redesign is real world applications, see what they want to do after high school,” he said. “CTEC is so great, Kris Mengarelli (CTEC executive director) does a good job and gives them so many good opportunities to do things like automotive and welding. It’s such an advantage for us to have that as a resource.” 

Students who visit CTEC, take college courses or dual credit courses at school or online get a “jump start on their career” Gabern said. Students learn about these programs during pre-enrollment with their counselor. Also, teachers who notice that a student may be interested in taking extra courses during high school would reach out to the student’s counselor throughout the year and help students set up those courses. 

“Our teachers are really great at guiding them,” Gabern said.  

There are advantages to having a smaller school, Cramer said. “All of our teachers know our kids and they are able to talk to them and know a little more about them and be able to gauge their interests,” he said.