District 834 changes achievement policies; New Stillwater School District policy will align with new state legislation

The Stillwater School District is implementing new state standard in student achievement.

In 2013 Minnesota state legislators developed new standards to measure student achievement, called World’s Best Workforce, and required school districts across the state to develop an implementation plan by Summer 2014. The plan outlined five goals each district needs to address in its plan: getting students to meet school-readiness goals before kindergarten; helping all third-graders achieve grade-level literacy; closing the identified academic achievement gaps; graduating all students from high school; and preparing all students for college and careers.

Stillwater Area Schools took the challenge a step further, suggesting seven goals of student achievement to add to its district policy. The policy, presented for its first reading June 26, includes two additional measures of student achievement: student engagement and student social, emotional and behavioral development.

“We wanted something unique for Stillwater, and something would could ensure for our students,” Board Member Kathy Buchholz said. “The policy is also a part of our Bridge to Excellence.”

The two additional measures were developed by the board’s policy committee, made up of board members George Hoeppner, Mike Ptacek and Buchholz.

“The members of the policy committee have been working on this for the last couple years,” Buchholz said.

The new results policy will replace “Results Policy: Global, Results Policy 1.0: Student Academic Achievement,” “Results Policy 1.1: Educational Program,” and “Results Policy 5.6: Partnerships” from the district’s policy book. The exact text from the old policies can be found on the district’s website.

“The last time we updated our results policy was in 2001, so it’s been 13 years,” Bochholz said. Along with the implementation of the World’s Best Workforce goals handed down by the state legislation, the district plans to implement a policy that will identify the roles of all who are involved with student learning.The section of the new policy that identified these roles calls for shared responsibility of student achievement. In the policy, the first person to take responsibility for student achievement is the student.

“It is expected that, through opportunities made available by District 834, that students will develop their academic talents in order to become lifelong learners,” Buchholz said.

The policy also includes parents, teachers, the superintendant, the school board and the community in taking responsibility for student success.

“Through its financial support, the community will determine the scope of the district educational programming and opportunities for student choice,” Buchholz said.

Buchholz outlined that it is the responsibility of the school board to review the results of the student achievement measures twice a year, and a performance measurement scheme was presented to the school board.

“When we first looked at the scheme, we thought it was too exhaustive to undertake,” Buchholz said. “It wasn’t until we realized that most of the measures we will be reviewing are already in place.”

To measure achievement for the state-assigned goals, the school district will use kindergarten screenings, standardized tests and graduation rates. For the two additional goals set by the policy, the school board will look student surveys and other Bridge to Excellence measures.

At press time, the school board was expected to approve the policy changes during the July 17 meeting. According to the World’s Best Workforce implementation presentation from the Minnesota Department of Education, the school district is required to develop a report on the implementation of the World’s Best Workforce plan and subsequent student results and submit summary of the report to Commissioner of Education’s Office by Oct. 1, 2014.

“The Board of Education is committed to identifying meaningful measures of student performance in order to monitor and improve student learning,” Buchholz said. “These measures will assist in making informed decisions related to the use of staff and financial resources.”

Contact Alicia Lebens at alicia.lebens@ecm-inc.com

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