SCSD moves ahead on fall changes

The Springfield City School District Board of Education approved the recommendations at its meeting on Thursday evening. It also heard a third report on the district’s proposed Instructional Technology Plan and liked it so much that Board President Ed Leventhal indicated the board is ready for a final proposal from staff at its July 2 meeting, with a vote on the plan slated July 17.

Prior to the unanimous vote, Superintendent Dr. David Estrop said, “I can strongly support the recommendations.”

Some of those high school recommendations are already in process, while others will be in the planning stage as the 2014-2015 begins and still more will be phased in and evaluated over the next two school years.

Slated for implementation in the coming school year and evaluation in 2015-16:

  • The high school should “be a place where we provide support, connect to services and provide information.”
  • Develop more effective ways for families to participate.
  • Improve staff retention.

Plans will be developed in 2014-15 with evaluation the following school year for:

  • Improving the 9th grade transition.
  • Giving staff clear, achievable expectations regarding academics, discipline, etc.
  • Creating an environment that supports and models student success in academics, behavior and social contexts.
  • Develop a comprehensive schedule that meets the needs of all students.

The 2014-15 school year will also be the evaluation period for providing collaborative and common planning time, incorporated into the existing school day. This is currently in the implementation process.

Estrop indicated specific actions for each category will be presented to board members.

The recommendations are the work of a “guiding group” of parents, students, citizens and district staff that met every two weeks for eight months. A similar effort is scheduled for the three middle schools this coming school year.

Meanwhile, Director of Middle Schools, Alternative Education & Student Services Marvin Jones reported on the focus of the Instructional Technology Plan.

“Our goal is to change the ways students learn,” Jones said.

Jones added that the plan includes comprehensive, 10-month training for teachers to learn how to use the system and devices to educate students. Teachers would receive laptops at the beginning of the new school year and students would receive the devices at the start of the second semester.

There would also be heavy emphasis on in-class use of the laptops and personalizing teaching methods to the students.

“It’s not about buying hardware,” board member Donna Picklesimer stressed. “It’s a paradigm shift (in teaching and learning.) The burden is on humans.”

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