Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Key Accomplishments You May Not Know About

The halls have been quiet for a couple of weeks and now that the dust is beginning to settle, we can take a look back on some of  the significant accomplishments we have made to move the district forward this school year. The other day the Board of Directors met for an annual work session. Much of this meeting time is spent reflecting on the year, and we begin to do some future planning and goal setting. While the building administrators were giving their reports a few items really stood out for me as major accomplishments.

First has to be the launch of the Connected Learning Initiative in the high school. Heralded as the biggest change in educational practice for this generation of students, it lived up to those expectations--and teachers did too! When we began this journey our expectation was that teachers would utilize the devices for at least one of their classes. The expectation would be that in the 2014-2015 school year, all courses would begin to utilize the devices. We found that teachers were able and willing to implement the devices across the curriculum. As Mr. Dieken put it, "Teachers are using devices as tools for learning rather than word processors and encyclopedias." Further, students have been very respectful of the devices and the breakdowns we experienced were few and far between. Next year holds great promise as we take the initiative to the next level and truly begin to flip the classrooms and prepare our students for the 21st Century!

Those of you that have youngsters in elementary school know that we implemented a new math curriculum in the 2013-2014 school year titled 'Envision Math'. This was a very exciting time for the elementary since it was the first curriculum adoption in over a decade for our district! We learned a lot with this implementation! While the first year of implementing any new curriculum often comes with frustration and gaps, our initial data collection is quite promising! Last year, 80% of third grades met targeted growth on the MAP; as fourth graders 92% of those youngsters met targeted growth! In third, fourth, and fifth grade 100% of students showed growth whereas 94% of sixth graders grew. Of course we don't want to make any major decisions based on the results of one test given on one specific day, but initial results are certainly promising!

Another thing that we are quite proud of is our record when it comes to the overall academic progress of our students. Back in 2001, the Board adopted the 2.0 rule, which required a corrective action plan for any student who had a cumulative grade point average below 2.0. It further required the district to intervene when students had failing grades in their coursework. Many of you are aware that this resulted in the development of the After School Program and the Homework Policy. We are very proud to report that for the first time since the 2.0 rule was implemented, not one student has a GPA below 2.0, and we recorded no failing grades this year! This is due largely to the hard work and dedication not only of Mr. Lipinski, Mr. Dieken, and Mr. Schlatter, but to the entire teaching staff!

Administrators also highlighted the success of the professional learning program that was implemented during the 2013-2014 school year. When we made the decision to move to a weekly early dismissal, it was imperative that we clearly articulate what it was we were going to do with this time and make sure it was well spent. A comprehensive professional development plan was developed that gave us a road map for the entire year. This professional development plan was instrumental in the successful launch of the initiatives mentioned above and has further laid the groundwork for future initiatives that are coming for the 2014-2015 school year. 

So the question now becomes, what's next? Well we have certainly laid the groundwork and if you have driven by the school lately you know that a lot of change is happening. Stay tuned, we will cover some of that in the weeks that follow!

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