OSKALOOSA — Oskaloosa Community School District Superintendent Paula Wright presented a “big picture plan” to the school board Tuesday evening.
One of the board priorities is improving student achievement. Wright gave a presentation outlining district goals.
Wright said she and administrators have had a lot of conversations about aligning their goals and making sure all the goals made sense.
“We have had a lot of conversations about minimizing the number of goals, getting down to actual action steps and making an impact,” she said. “Because if you make an impact on one or two things and do it well, you’ll impact a whole lot of other things. Instead of having 10 or 12 or 20 goals, we really want to narrow the focus and we want to make sure they all make sense and are aligned.”
At the top of the list, Wright said, were culture and climate and student achievement, followed by finances and facilities and safety and security.
Culture and climate
The district’s focus this year will be providing professional development on culture and climate. Wright said the goal for this year is for all staff to gain an understanding of social-emotional learning.
“All staff will learn and implement strategies connected to students and other staff members and communities from all walks of life and all situations,” she said. “So we’re talking about strategies on how to help children develop socially and emotionally so that they can find better success in school. And all staff will contribute to a positive culture in our schools.”
Wright said the goal is to gain a better understanding of the Iowa Instructional Framework. The Iowa Instructional Framework, according to the Iowa Department of Education, “creates a common instructional language and vision for quality teaching across an entire school district.”
Along with gaining a better understanding of the Iowa Instructional Framework, Wright said, it needs to be implemented in a way to not overwhelm the staff.
Wright also touched on standards referenced grading.
“We’ve had a lot of conversation about ‘where are we at, what do we need to look at, what do we need to get a hold of, this is moving maybe a little too fast,’” she said. “So we went backwards, kind of, with the goal.”
Wright said the district will be identifying priority standards and creating proficiency rubrics that are consistent between all classrooms and all subject areas that are using them, as well as having common formative assessments.
“[We’re] putting grading conversation aside for now,” she said, “because until we have those things done consistently and well, you can’t go to those grading practices yet.”
Finances and facilities
The top goal, Wright said, is to get out of negative balances.
“We just can’t have that. Specifically, we’re working on special education, Title I, home school assistance and food service,” she said. “Not forgetting all the rest of them, because those all need to stay positive, but making sure that those are headed in the right direction to not be negative.”
Another top goal for the district is to reduce the number of open enrolled out students.
“The only way we can do that,” Wright said, “is by doing that culture and climate thing and the student achievement thing.”
Safety and security
Wright said professional development will be provided to staff regarding the emergency operations plan.
“That includes all staff in that plan, making sure that we’re being compliant with that and that we have those processes and procedures in place,” she said. “And then just to continue to create long-range plans for safety and security and how we can improve that and always get better at those things.”
Administrators at all levels are expected to “work in conjunction to align their goal,” Wright said, and to provide feedback and accountability.
“We want teachers to work collaboratively and individually to grow their skills,” she said. “Our other outcome is that students benefit from the aligned efforts and enhanced collaboration and improved classroom practices.”
The board will have a future work session to further discuss goals.
Board member Carl Drost said he was “really excited” to see progress being made since Wright has joined the district.
“Now with the goals and things like that, we’re seeing a change in the expectations in staff, expectations in students, finances and everything,” he said, “we’re starting to see a plan of attack of where we’re going. I think it’s real progress.”
Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.