Strategies for Improving Curriculum, Instruction, & Student Achievement
August Assessment Days
1. August Assessment Days
The kindergarten-fifth grade summer literacy assessments give all elementary teachers the achievement data needed to target instruction for their students from the first day of the school year. Appointment sign-ups were available online on a first-come, first-serve basis. Unlike conference sign-up, families with more than one child attending their elementary school could schedule assessment appointments on the same date at the same time. Students who could not attend either day completed their assessments during the first month of school. During teacher preparation time the week before school started, the teachers analyzed the data for student placement.
2. Principal Evaluation
To enhance a principal’s leadership skills and support and improve teaching practices, school performance, and student achievement, a district must develop and implement a performance-based system for annually evaluating school principals assigned to supervise a school building within the district. The evaluation must be designed to improve teaching and learning by supporting the principal in shaping the school’s professional environment and developing teacher quality, performance, and effectiveness.
The annual evaluation must:
Support and improve a principal’s instructional leadership, organizational management, and professional development, and strengthen the principal’s capacity in the areas of instruction, supervision, evaluation, and teacher development;
Include formative and summative evaluations;
Be consistent with a principal’s job description, a district’s long-term plans and goals, and the principal’s own professional multi-year growth plans and goals, all of which must support the principal’s leadership behavior and practices, rigorous curriculum, school performance, and high-quality instruction;
Include on-the-job observations and previous evaluations;
Allow surveys to help identify a principal’s effectiveness, leadership skills and processes, and strengths and weaknesses in exercising leadership in pursuit of school success;
Use longitudinal data on student academic growth as an evaluation component and incorporate district achievement goals and targets;
Be linked to professional development that emphasizes improved teaching and learning, curriculum and instruction, student learning, and a collaborative professional culture; and
Provide principals not meeting standards of professional practice or other criteria under this subdivision, implement a plan to improve the principal’s performance and specify the procedure and consequence if the principal’s performance is not improved.
Lakeville Area Schools designed its own principal evaluation process meeting the aforementioned requirements. To fully implement the comprehensive principal evaluation model including goal setting, SCIP alignment, inclusiveness of academic and stakeholder data as well as the superintendent’s feedback on the 5 key areas of the performance rubric. This year we will fully implement the framework resulting in principal evaluations that are based 50% on summative evaluation, 35% on academic improvement goals and 15% on stakeholder satisfaction.
3. Teacher Evaluation
In 2012, the Minnesota state legislature passed a law that changed the way public school systems evaluate licensed professional staff and continuing contract teachers. The Teacher Development and Evaluation system (TDE), as it is now known, was created to establish a uniform system state-wide that focuses on evidence-based reflective practice, peer review, student achievement, and summative administrative evaluation. To create an evaluation system that would comply with the statutory requirements, the district created a joint committee between the district and EML to conduct collaborative work that would study the law, develop a system, then implement a plan for evaluating licensed staff in the district by the required 2015-2016 deadline. This joint committee reviewed research-based evaluation models, attended state-level trainings, and ultimately developed a system that was presented to EML and the Board of Education for approval. Education Minnesota-Lakeville (EML) and the Lakeville Board of Education ratified this plan in 2015. The major components of the new TDE plan include:
A) Observations in the classroom (40%)
1) 20% based on reflection from Peer Observation (with a peer partner in years one and two)
2) 20% in the form of Administrative Observation (in year three of the cycle)
B) Focus on Student Achievement (50%)
1) 35% in the form of reflection on summative student achievement data done at the end of every year of the three-year cycle.
2) 15% in the form of reflection on Action plans, Interventions, and formative student data through Professional Learning Communities during each year of the three-year cycle.
C) Professional Development (5%)
Educators will reflect upon one PD experience at the end of each cycle year – aligned to individual, site, or district based professional development goals. Educators reflect on changes made in their professional practice and impact on student learning that stem from professional learning implemented from the PD activity.
D) Student Engagement Survey (5%)
Educators will reflect upon information gathered from peer, administrative, and student feedback based on student engagement in the learning process. During each year of the cycle, educators will analyze the feedback to determine strengths and weaknesses in their methods and strategies, develop action plans for how to act on this information, and reflect on how to improve student engagement in their professional practice.
4. Curriculum Review
Lakeville Area Schools follows the Curriculum Design Cycle when the Minnesota Department of Education adopts new standards in a subject area. The District analyzes the Minnesota standards and benchmarks, the District standards (digital skills, inclusive curriculum and teaching practices, 21st Century Skills), and the ACT standards to create Essential Learnings. These standards are written in teacher-friendly language so as to ensure consistency in meaning across the district. Teachers are asked to create aligned student-friendly learning targets to engage our learners in monitoring their own behavior. Teams of teachers are formed to evaluate the standards; determine alignment between standards, assessments and resources; and document the work in Eclipse, our curriculum collaboration tool. All faculty are required to teach the essential learnings and the accompanying assessments so that we can have a guaranteed and viable curriculum across the district. This provides all students equal access to a challenging curriculum. All administration are required to monitor the teaching and learning at their site to ensure all students learn at high levels and that the achievement gap closes by 50% by Spring.
Lakeville Area Schools has a district-wide Teaching and Learning Advisory Council (T&LAC). The council consists of parent representatives from each school in the district as well as community representatives, teachers, administrators, and school board members. The purpose of the council is to advise the district on curriculum content, instructional practices, and assessments. The council meets monthly to provide feedback about curriculum updates, student achievement reports, and recommendations for instructional resources. Members spend considerable time interviewing presenters, providing input, and making recommendations. These recommendations are shared publicly during a Board of Education meeting by the School Board representative and by the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. Building representatives share the information with their building advisory councils and PTO’s and bring feedback to the Teaching and Learning Advisory Council.
Parents and community members are invited to apply for membership on the district T&LAC. Applications are available on the district website, or you can call 952-232-2019 if you are interested in applying. Applications are accepted through October 30th of each year. Meetings are held once a month on Mondays from 4-5:30 p.m.
Best Practices and Resources
6. Best Practices and Resources
Lakeville Area Schools provides professional development for teachers which is based on best practice. As our district strives to have a comprehensive, challenging, and relevant curriculum, and we need to provided training on effective, engaging instructional strategies, ways to design accurate and meaningful assessments within a culture of continuous improvement. Simultaneously we need to provide information technology systems and equitable learning environments that advance teaching and learning.
For the past few years, our focus on academic achievement at the classroom level has been on the Teaching and Learning Progression as a series of processes for providing a challenging and rigorous curriculum. At the core of the Teaching and Learning Progression is the Professional Learning Community (PLC). The goal of the professional learning community is to continuously examine what students are learning and the results they are getting. And, if the student is not getting the learning, the members of the PLC making adjustments at the classroom level or the site level to assist students. In addition, the PLCs responsibility is to determine what to do if the student does get the learning. All professional development activities are aligned with helping teachers assist students in receiving high quality core instruction. Our district Teaching and Learning Advisory Council has these three foci at the core of all professional development.
District and sites will provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum for students. By guaranteed, we mean the curriculum to be learned is documented so that each student, no matter which school they attend, has equal access to the same curriculum. By viable, we mean that their is enough time for students to learn the curriculum in the course on one year.
District and sites will provide challenging goals and offer students effective feedback
District and sites will invest in instructional strategies that improve student achievement
Our goal is to provide high quality instruction and systems of supports to ensure learning for each student. Our priority areas for professional development include the following areas:
Support and strengthen professional learning communities at each site
Support and strengthen each portion of the Teaching and Learning Progression with emphasis on clearly identifying what we want students to learn, utilizing best practice research in instruction, aligning teacher-designed assessments with essential learnings, determining what to do when students do not get the learning, adjusting teaching in response to student performance, and provide effective immediate feedback and employ grading practices that reflect student learning. Special emphasis on providing additional time for instruction on literacy and math during the school day is a K-12 focus for students who need extra assistance.
Support and strengthen literacy instruction throughout the district.
Support and strengthen instruction for all students by providing training and assistance in cultural responsive teaching techniques
Support and strengthen instruction for all students by incorporating digital strategies and resources in the classroom.
Provide professional development on our new Teacher Development and Evaluation System.