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School District Highlights

School District Highlights

Improved Course Grades

Are you interested in learning about a way to provide enrichment and intervention during the school day?  One school is taking the initiative to help students catch up in the classroom.

Program helps students at their pace
By Maria Matson


Headlines, in a way, are what mislead you because bad news is a headline, and gradual improvement is not.

~Bill Gates

Professional Learning Spotlight for Six Districts

The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) and the Northwest Educational Service District 189 (NWESD) are providing strong professional learning experiences for six districts identified for support.

Sedro-Woolley, Burlington-Edison, Stanwood, Ferndale, Sultan and Orcas Island are “shining” in a series of workshops and consultation/coaching sessions designed to increase collaboration between general and special education in order to improve outcomes for students.  Teams of administrators, special education and general education teachers are participating in this 3-year process.  The content includes collaboration protocols around student data/performance intended to be replicated by districts in PLC teams, team meetings, staff meetings, etc.  CSTP focuses on process and collaboration skills while NWESD provides specific content in equity, progress monitoring, co-teaching, effective instructional strategies, lesson study, and other strategies that teams may identify as a focus for their School Improvement Plan (SIP).

One of the critical components in this project is the expectation that each team identifies a small test of change with their team.  A small test of change is an actionable, shorter-term goal designed to be a small step closer to a broader, overall aim (such as improved outcomes for students with disabilities).  Teams considered their existing initiatives and elected to set a small test of change to refine implementation. For example, one team elected to develop a fidelity checklist to ensure classified and certificated staff were implementing a citizenship program effectively. Another team’s small test of change expanded an existing idea-collecting data from teachers on their actual implementation of evidence-based instructional strategies presented during staff meetings. This team elected to slow down, focus on each strategy for a longer period, and use the data to guide their follow-up training.

Developing a small test of change feels a bit foreign because our habit is to set goals that are evaluated at the end of each school year. These goals are often rewritten into a new School Improvement Plan each year, which results in unwieldy expectations with too many goals in too short a period. Changes may occur in this hurried process, but the changes may not be improvements. Going deeper with existing, promising practices and using data to adjust practice may not generate “headlines” or silver-bullets, but will likely result in improvements that stand the test of time and actually improve student learning.  Please contact Lara Cole at lcole@nwesd.org if you may be interested in participating at a future time.

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