With a few days of school under our belts, it appears students and staff are beginning to settle into a routine. Preliminary reports show enrollments are up throughout the district, so that is always a welcome trend for a superintendent!
Last week I mentioned the district's Comprehensive School Improvement Plan and promised to go into a little more detail in the next few weeks. I also shared with you how you can obtain a copy of the CSIP plan by going to our Web site at http://www.marshallschools.com. A hard copy of the plan is also available at our central office.
The first CSIP objective involves providing a rigorous curriculum and instructional learning experiences that address the diverse needs of all students. We listed this objective first because we believe it is extremely important. Strong academic performance for all students begins with a solid understanding of what children need to know and the best instructional practices to be used to help them learn.
Most everyone has, by now, heard of No Child Left Behind. This federal legislation is probably most responsible for driving what we teach children in school and how we monitor the progress of all students. School districts which utilize Title I federal funds are held responsible for the academic performance of various subgroups of students on the state assessments. For this reason, a great deal of emphasis is placed on academic performance through our state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
In the Marshall School District, we have established a committee of teachers, administrators, parents and students who meet monthly to monitor curriculum work. This Instructional Coordinating Council (ICC) is responsible for setting the tone for curriculum development, establishing the instructional practices that are most effective to help children learn and making decisions affecting curriculum and instruction throughout the district. This past summer, teachers from all grade levels spent a full week writing curriculum in communication arts, gifted education, guidance, health occupations and auto mechanics. They learned how to utilize an online alignment tool which provides a common framework for all curricular areas. Their work will continue throughout this first semester in finalizing the curriculum, which will be followed throughout the grade levels.
Teachers in our district will also spend a great deal of time looking at student performance indicators to help identify areas in need of special attention. The results of our Missouri Assessment Program exams from last spring are now available, and we will be administering the Stanford Achievement tests early in September to all students from first grade through 11th grade. I know that some may feel that this is too much testing. However, we feel this fall testing is extremely important because unless you know where students are in their learning process, true identification of the strategies to improve their academic performance is made more difficult. We choose not to leave that to chance!
Once we have tested our students and determined their individual academic needs, we will be communicating with them and their parents. The accountability for every student's academic performance must be shared by the student, his/her parents and the school district. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to help every child succeed in school.
If you would like to know more about the curriculum development process and what your child should know, please meet with our building administrators, or contact me at the central office. I would be glad to visit with you more about our most important objective!