New district learning plan focuses on data
March 25, 2014
Park City School District Superintendent Dr. Ember Conley said one of her goals when she was hired was to create a written plan for the school district for the next three to five years. With only three months left in her first school year as superintendent, Conley and the Board of Education have done just that.
Last week, the district rolled out its new District Learning Plan, which provides guidelines and goals for instruction put together by the superintendent and the school board.
"It is a connection between our strategic plan, which is a very broad view, and our school improvement plans," Conley said. "It’s the link between there, and it defines the goals of the district as well as describes the structures and systems with which to reach those goals."
According to the district learning plan, the two overarching broad goals are to close the achievement gap and help below proficient students meet grade level expectations and to continue high performance and increase growth of high performing students.
More specifically, the district hopes to increase the lowest 25 percent of students in reading and math as measured by the SAGE and Utah Core Assessment by May of 2016. The plan also aims to help students in the top two quartiles of achievement remain in those quartiles and show significant growth as measured by the Utah Corse Assessment in reading and math as well as reach 95 percent proficiency in those areas by then.
"This is not going to happen overnight. It is going to take some time as far as implementation," Conley said. "More importantly, it defines the common language not only for us as an organization, as a staff, but also for our community and our supporters."
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Conley said there are four questions the district must ask of itself to guide the work it does with its students, and they are listed in the plan. "What is it we expect students to learn, "How will we know if students have learned," "How will we respond when students do not learn," and "How will we respond when students already know it?"
In response to these questions, the district will implement the Professional Learning Communities model in the 2014-2015 school year. It is structured around the four questions in the plan and structures all conversations around actual student data.
Conley said the goal is to use that data on a daily and weekly basis to change instruction in accordance with how the students are learning.
"There will definitely be more data-driven and mastery-driven teaching," she said. "We will be moving from being focused on whether or not a student has an A in the class as opposed to, for example, being able to multiply and divide double digit numbers."
One way the district plans to compile data is with a benchmarking system. The data collected from the assessments will help to provide structure for teachers to use the data to make decisions regarding instruction.
Conley said the data will also help the district form professional development for teachers. Team-building, relationship-building and learning how to work in a collaborative culture are all goals of the new professional developments.
When drafting and constructing the district learning plan at a meeting several weeks ago, compiling a glossary defining all terms used in the plan was discussed. Now that the learning plan has been released, there is still no glossary, but Conley said it is in the works and should be released to the community soon.
However, the learning plan itself is "in the works," and she said the final draft should be approved this summer.
"It will continue to be a draft probably until the first board of education meeting in June. It will be fully adopted then," she said. "We are gathering input from staff members, and I will be holding community forums soon to receive input there as well. We will then make revisions accordingly."