The St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District’s curriculum team presented an academic strategy designed to increase student achievement at the School Board’s August retreat.
The board holds a retreat twice a year to get updates, discuss improvements and make plans for the district and its schools.
“Our summer retreat, designed for the evaluation of last year’s educational assessments, financial (budget) results and the superintendent’s evaluation was as always a very informative tool,” School Board Vice President Patrick Sanders said. “These events always allow for board members to obtain a clearer picture of the district. Normally, it’s just a few board members at a committee meeting. This allows for the entire board to spend quality time for two days discussing the state of the district.”
Sanders said the retreat allowed district administrative personnel to interact directly with board members to share ideas about planning for the future.
“This retreat, an open forum, did allow just that, sharing statistics on teacher employment, early teacher/student ratio in each grade level and educational stance for this coming year,” he said.
The top priority in the district this school year is implementing Tier One Curricula in all of its classrooms. Tier 1 Curricula are evidence-based, scientifically researched programs in core subjects that are aligned to state standards. Using these standards across the district will ensure all students have an equal opportunity to learn essential grade-level content, that what students are learning in class is aligned to end-of-year testing and will provide a clear view into what teachers need to teach, how to deliver effective instruction and ways to measure impact on student outcomes.
Teachers will receive continuous training in these programs on delayed start days for students implemented this school year.
“If students aren’t exposed to grade-level content they are not going to be successful on end-of-the-year tests, and while I know that’s important, it’s about them being successful in life,” Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Tracy Hypolite told board members.
School board members also heard about the goal-setting framework created by the district this year that starts at the student level and works its way up to the district level. Individual growth targets will be developed for each student – whether they are low performing, high performing or anywhere in the middle. Growth targets in the past focused mainly on helping students who were falling behind. Teachers will set class goals based on each student’s individual growth target. Schools will set goals based on each of its teacher’s goals and the district will set goals based on the schools’ goals.
Student progress will be monitored throughout the school year using LEAP 360 assessments in 3rd through 8th grade and LEAP 2025 in high school. The results of these assessments will be used to monitor how students are progressing toward their growth target, how curriculum is affecting student progress and what steps are needed to ensure schools meet their goals.
Feedback provided to teachers will be used to enhance and support daily instructional practices. School leaders will also have the opportunity to build coaching skills required to better provide strategic support to teachers at their schools.
School Board member Russ Wise said he wants to ensure that that communication is a two-way street, with teachers also able to give feedback to their school leaders.
The two-day retreat also covered school safety and crisis plans, Head Start, finance and construction updates and the evaluation of the superintendent.
“We’re off to a great start, where teaching and learning commence day one,” Sanders said.