Update on progress made on the strategic plan regarding student achievement and communication
The USD 490 Board of Education received an update on progress made on the strategic plan regarding student achievement and communication during a fifth Monday board meeting this week.
Superintendent Sue Givens updated board members on some of the things accomplished and things still to be done.
Givens began by talking about professional development, explaining they have been doing trained peer-to-peer walk throughs of classrooms without an administrator, something new this year. They also have modified the evaluation plan, which was new this year, for next year and have one thing that will be added to teacher evaluations is student achievement, although they don’t know how that will be measured yet. The third part of this is transitioning from consultant support for the multi-tiered support system (MTSS) to building team independence.
They also heard about efforts to increase student achievement opportunities. These included such things as the iPad minis at the middle school and iPods for fourth and fifth graders, as well as the district’s participation in a metro Career and Technical Education grant proposal.
Another aspect of this is budget cuts, looking at what they had to cut the last three years and what they can bring back, including that they have restored elementary art and are restructuring administration.
Another area they reviewed was growth in academic measures.
The district is monitoring and being involved at multiple levels on the state assessments, and staff members attended a conference on the Smarter Balance assessments, for which they are signed up to be a pilot district. They also have worked to align the curriculum with Common Core and ACT indicators.
Another standard was the recruitment and retention of quality educators. For this they reviewed the application and hiring protocols, completed staff climate and exit surveys and developed marketing videos, something that will be turned over to the students in the future.
An additional goal is to increase student athletic and activity offerings to exceed those of area schools their size, as well as do an equipment and inventory assessment. One thing they have added is soccer intramurals, which as 28 signed up at the middle school and 12 at the high school for the first season.
The district also will be adding an activity bus route in the fall.
Other efforts include increasing community involvement in extra curricular activities and requiring certified staff to participate in homecoming parades. To help spread the word, the district has set up Twitter accounts for the athletic teams and the next step will be activities.
Givens said they have to get staff engaged in activities and make it easy for people to participate.
One effort toward that is the creation of a new sports foundation, which is a huge support of extra curricular activities.
Looking at professional development for coaches and sponsors, they held alignment meetings so they have similar coaching foundations throughout all grades, and the still need to align and articulate guidelines for cut procedures. The district also is doing evaluations for the sports and each coach will get the results from their support, as well as the athletic director.
Under communications, they looked at knowing issues better, implementing drills and staff sensitivity for dealing with poverty.
Givens said they have had fewer homeless students this year than they have ever had before. She believes they will be well under 10 this year, with some years reaching as many as 32.
They also are looking for increased parent involvement, improving Web pages and launching the El Dorado School App.
“You guys made this plan and we really are working at it,” Givens said. “I would say this has been a fantastic year for student accomplishments. Like I said, because you have a plan and we are focused on it, but it’s also because we have some fantastic kids.”
She described the students as polite, who perform well and are respectful of others.
Next in the meeting, Julie Jensen, director of curriculum, talked about the student assessment report, giving an update on student performance on district-wide measures.
She said they have to triangulate their data. They do this through Aims Web to test math and reading three times a year; state assessments, which is now aligned for Common Core; and NWA, a growth adaptive program.
Looking at NWA, Jensen said last year’s kindergartners came in a tad bit lower, but third graders ended a bit higher than the last three years. Overall, elementary students are at or above for NWA, middle school is right where it should be and at the high school, ninth and 10th grades were low, but 11th and 12th grades were way above.
Looking at ACT data, they had the largest number testing last year that they have had in the last five years, an 18 percent increase. This group had the fourth lowest composite in the last five years.
“When we have more students taking that your probability is skewed,” Jensen said.
The meeting concluded with an executive session to discuss personnel.
Julie Clements can be reached at email@example.com.