School District 51 working on five-year plan

Steve Schultz

School District 51 has begun work on a strategic plan addressing its goals for improving instruction and meeting student-achievement goals within the next half-decade.

Superintendent Steve Schultz said the five-year plan will look at what’s working in the district and what could be changed to produce better results. A group of people with experience in the education field will spend two weeks in September taking stock of the district and its instructional practices to help inform the plan, Schultz said.

“My dream would be to have this done by October,” Schultz said of the plan, although other issues may push the deadline back to the end of the calendar year or possibly further.

The plan’s creation will involve four phases, beginning with reformatting common core standards into measurable topics, something the district already is working on. The next phase would include tracking student progress in learning these topics, using assessments designed by the district and teachers.

Next, the district will focus on providing individualized support to students, and then it will work on redesigning the report-card system so grading is aligned across classrooms. In other words, a student can earn the same grade regardless of what teacher he has or what school he’s at by demonstrating knowledge of a list of curriculum topics that are learned in the class.

The five-year plan will include some nonnegotiable guidelines for teachers, while other instructional suggestions will offer some wiggle room. School board members suggested during a retreat Tuesday the nonnegotiable list should include items such as making sure all students can demonstrate basic math skills and read at a level appropriate for their intended career when they graduate and having teachers make sure a safe learning environment is maintained.

Board members discussed having a community leader and a current or former district employee co-chair a steering committee for designing the plan. The committee may listen to community members in various focus groups and use results of a community survey to inform decisions.


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