by BOB GAETJENS | EDITOR
Streetsboro — With the release of the local report card for the 2011-12 school year in which the district was rated “excellent,” the Streetsboro City Schools made significant progress toward meeting one of its seven major goals listed in its five-year strategic plan, according to School Board member Kevin Grimm.
He said he was particularly pleased the district met its “Value-Added” measure on its latest Local Report Card from the state, which corresponds directly with one of the objectives in the district’s five-year strategic plan: “Every student in Streetsboro City Schools will demonstrate at least one year’s worth of academic growth annually by 2017.”
However, Curriculum Director Mike Daulbaugh said it will be challenging to absolutely meet the goal of having “every student” show a year’s worth of academic progress in the space of a year.
“That year of academic growth is going to look different for every student,” he said. “I think it’s an attainable goal, but it’s something you’re always going to be working on.”
The goal, which is one of seven overarching goals identified in the school district’s 5-year strategic plan adopted last May, is one of seven central goals in the plan.
The goal is then subdivided into about 45 different steps to meet it, and groups or individuals within the district are assigned to each step, according to the plan.
Those steps relate to professional development, intervention strategies, instructional practices, scheduling, student engagement, data and curriculum.
“One of the first things we have to do is align our curriculum to the new common core standards,” said Daulbaugh.
Some of that has already been accomplished.
Last year, kindergarden through second grade and 11th- and 12th-grade curricula were aligned to the state. This year, Daulbaugh said the district is working to align third- through 10th grades with the state standards.
Once that’s done, Daulbaugh said new assessments would need to be developed reflecting the new curriculum so teachers and administrators can identify who needs help in specific areas.
One tool Daulbaugh said should continue to prove helpful is Scholastic Reading Inventory, an online assessment that assigns students a certain reading level after testing their comprehension.
He said students read a passage and then answer question about it, but the questions often require critical thinking, a skill which the new state common core curriculum will emphasize in the achievement tests.
One goal he has is to find a similar assessment for math.
Daulbaugh said the district will be continually adjusting to the new common core state curriculum during the window of time the district will also be trying to meet its goal of a year’s progress for every student in the space of a year. The district hopes to meet that goal by 2017, according to the plan.
The process will be a cycle of adjusting to and adopting curriculum changes from the state, developing appropriate assessments, and using the results of those assessments to identify students who need help in the specific areas and the tools which will help them most, said Daulbaugh.
Math has changed significantly, he said. In the past, students only needed to calculate a correct answer, but now they have to explain in prose how they arrived at the answer.
“Better than 50 percent of the [achievement test] questions are short answer and extended response,” he said. “There will be even more emphasis on that when the new assessments come out in 2014-15.”
Across the board, critical thinking skills will be emphasized more under the new state curriculum, he said.
“I think that’s the biggest difference between the old and new standards,” said Daulbaugh. “I think our teachers are doing a better job of including multiple types of questions in all their assessments.”