The arrival of the New Year is often looked at in our society as a time for reflection and resolution. The practice of taking stock of where we currently stand and setting goals for where we wish to be allows us to make continuous improvement in our lives. Whether you resolved this New Year to exercise more, spend less, or pursue some other personal improvement, you followed a process that involved gathering information about your current situation, making a plan for changing the parts of it that you felt needed changing, working your plan, and monitoring your results. Essentially, this is the same process used by our district to bring about positive change that will increase our student outcomes. The school improvement planning cycle is comprised of four main phases: gather and study, plan, implement, and monitor. This process guides us as we analyze system level data, identify research based strategies, implement the strategies, and evaluate the impact of our strategies on student achievement. As school funding and reporting measures become increasingly linked to student proficiency levels, effective school improvement planning becomes even more essential.
To begin the process, data is gathered from a variety of sources, including student demographics and achievement, building and district processes, and stakeholder perception surveys. Within the next few weeks, we will be publishing a link to parent, student, and staff surveys on our website. We encourage you to take time to complete one of these surveys and share your input into our district improvement process. State assessment results are another source of data. The release of preliminary student results from the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) Test has allowed our teaching staff a glimpse at how our students are performing against the adopted curriculum standards. Additionally, these results, along with other curriculum and skills based assessment results, help us to identify both students in need of remediation and students who should be given opportunities for acceleration.
When planning for strategy implementation, we choose those strategiese that have been proven to return the greatest results and are most closely aligned with the requirements that are given to us from the state and federal levels. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), adopted by Michigan in 2010 and in the process of being implemented during the 2012-2013 school year, are intended to establish clear and consistent goals for learning that will prepare students for success in college and work. The CCSS represent a shift in the depth and breadth of what our students were expected to learn under the previous grade specific content standards. Our teachers have been working to realign their curriculum and learn new strategies and instructional practices that will be essential for CCSS implementation. More information on the Common Core can be found at both www.corestandards.org and www.michigan.gov/mde/0,1607,7-140-6530_30334_51042-232021--,00.html
We have implemented many new strategies in our district this year to address areas that we determined were in need of improvement. Elementary teachers have been using the writer’s workshop approach for writing instruction. They have also adopted a new math series that is more closely aligned with the Common Core math standards. At the middle and high school level, writing across the curriculum and critical reading strategies have been the focus. Overall, our staff professional learning has been enhanced by teacher participation in content area professional learning communities that meet every other month throughout the school year. Our district improvement plan is available for review on our website, along with a "one pager" document that lists all strategies being implemented as well as the grade and content levels responsible for implementation.
Pickford Public Schools has resolved to be a leader in the region in student achievement. This is a resolution that we can keep with the ongoing support of our community. Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions or questions related to the continuous improvement of our district. We would love your input!