Director Report: Teaching and Learning

Instruction, Curriculum, and Assessment

Asha Riley, Director of Learning


October 6, 2010


TO:                        Michael Green, Superintendent

FROM:                   Asha Riley


RE:                         Instruction, Curriculum, Assessment and Professional Development Monthly Update


Professional Development Leadership Team


Over the past two months we have assembled a professional development leadership team that includes staff from each building including administrators, reading coaches, and teachers. Our first goal was to organize the curriculum, instructional, assessment and professional development work into a framework that would ensure we keep the focus on student learning. We determined that four questions will be the framework we build our work around. For each question we have a goal and programs and initiatives we implement will be driven with a focus on answering these key questions to achieve these goals.


The questions and goals are:

1.     What do we want students to know?

  • Students will have a seamless K-12 standards based experience to develop the knowledge, skills, and self-worth necessary to become a responsible contributing citizen.

2.     How will we teach them?

  • Students will be exposed to the kinds of instruction that will promote academic excellence

3.     How will we know they learned it?

  • Implementation of assessments that both inform instruction and indicate student achievement in a timely fashion.

4.     How will we respond if they come in already knowing, or don't achieve the expected learning?

  • Students will be provided timely and effective interventions and support to learn and succeed in areas where they struggle and excel.


To give you a sense of how we are using these questions to guide our work toward these goals I will use them to describe some of the curriculum, professional development, assessment, and instructional work we have done over the past month.


What do we want students to know?

Answer: We want students to know their post graduate plans and have had the necessary High School courses and support needed to act on that plan.

Action Step: Navigation 101 Academy (October 6-7)

Kelly Sloniker, LaJune Thorson, John Shoup, Kim Miller, and I attended the 2 day Navigation 101 Conference.  At this conference we were all reinvigorated and optimistic about the programs core values and purposes which are to:

1.    Establish and cultivate meaningful relationships for all of our students with an adult school advisors and,

2.   To make sure that all of our students graduate with a post graduate plan, as well as the proper finances, background of courses, and skills to carry out that plan... (often stated as being career and/or college ready).

We walked away from the conference with some new strategies for more effective implementation of this program that will ensure kids leave our high school with a plan and the preparation they need to achieve that plan. We'll share more on this as we implement these strategies.

How will we teach them?

Answer: Students will be exposed to the kinds of instruction that will promote academic excellence

Action Step: All Staff Introduction to the book The Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano.

(September 13th)

This book was introduced to staff as a resource regarding high yield instructional practices. The book clarifies that while research has provided evidence of many effective instructional practices, it also states that the way teachers implement these practices can influence their level of effect on student learning. Therefore, while it is important we have an awareness of these high yield instructional practices, it is equally important for teachers to reflect on how effectively they have implemented those practices in their classrooms. The book will serve as a vehicle for these conversations among our staff over the course of the next two to three years.

How will we know they learned?

Answer: Students will demonstrate achievement of standards as measured by interim math assessments.

Action Step: Implement standards based common math assessments in grades K-5 and HS, and develop these assessments for grades 6-8. (October 4th)

During our district directed professional development day teachers of grades K-5 attended training on the new math assessments. They learned how the assessments were designed, how to administer them and most importantly how we can use the resulting data. These assessments will be given three times this year. After each administration of the assessment the teachers will receive the data back next week. With this data they will be able to do the following.

1. Identify students who will need added support and interventions in order to achieve standard on the MSP.

2. Analyze effectiveness of curriculum and instruction on student achievement of particular standards during that window of time.

3. Identify grade level trends in student performance.

4. Determine weaknesses in the curriculum alignment to standards across grades and buildings.

How will we respond if they come in already knowing, or don't achieve the expected learning?

Answer: Students will be provided timely and effective interventions and support to learn and succeed in areas where they struggle and excel.

Action Step: Revision of the Student Assistance Team (October 4th)

Over the past month a team has worked together to revise a process we've had in place to provide interventions for struggling learners. While there are many formal program interventions (IEPs, Learning Support, etc.) often many students don't qualify for these supports. Therefore we believe it is important for the classroom teachers to have support providing interventions to struggling students in a timely fashion. This revised process is designed to achieve just that and includes collaboration with a variety of colleagues, brainstorming interventions based on what we know about the student and their achievement, monitoring the effect of these interventions within a given time period and meeting again to discuss whether the plan of support worked. The process is cyclical until the interventions improve student success, in which case the collaborative team discusses a plan to sustain the improvement.

There are many other steps being taken to achieve our goals and I'll highlight those as we move through the year. Hopefully, this gave you a glimpse into the work being done and how we are striving to keep a clear and sharp focus on student learning in every effort we invest in.

Looking Ahead:

At the board meeting I will share some information related to the possible state adoption of the Common Core Standards in 2015. I have included the power point of this information for your review prior to the meeting.

Asha Riley

Cc:            Administrative Team