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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
  • Success due to embracing new initiatives

  • Many of you had a chance to read about our recent success of our academic performance in the local paper. I would like to focus on the results today and highlight some of the steps the school district took so that we can be in this honorable position. We earned this award due to our restructuring process that we embraced five years ago.
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  • Many of you had a chance to read about our recent success of our academic performance in the local paper. I would like to focus on the results today and highlight some of the steps the school district took so that we can be in this honorable position. We earned this award due to our restructuring process that we embraced five years ago.
     
    Five years ago our school district was identified as a district that is not making adequate progress according to the No Child Left Behind federal mandate. The school district in collaborations with all stakeholders (board administration, teachers and support staff) decided to go through a curriculum audit by an outside agency that provided a blue print to improve our curriculum. We started the complete curriculum rewrite with our math first followed by science, language arts (two year implementation and write), and this year social studies.
    We also decided to be part of the Flexible Learning Year Consortium (FLY) that allows our school to start two weeks before Labor Day so that we can use seven to 10 days of high impact learning days prior to high stakes testing. The FLY created joint staff development opportunities with the other 21 school districts.
     
    The FLY also allowed us to create Professional Learning Communities (PLC) using the DeFour model. Starting this year our PLC groups meet on every second Wednesdays starting at 2 p.m. Many of our staff members also participate in cross district PLCs as part of the FLY initiative.
     
    We are also focusing on a standards based instruction instead of just following the textbooks. We identified our 10-16 core power standards that we feel are essential for our students to master in each grade level. The standards are visible in our classroom and used daily.
     
    We also transitioned our elementary report cards to a standards based grading system. Instead of giving grades A-F, we provide feedback to the parents about the standards their child is focusing on. We let the parents know if their child exceeds, meets, partially meets or does not meet the standards that they cover during the school year.
     
    I truly believe that all these initiatives and having all district stakeholders working together for our students provided the Reward School recognition for our school.
     
    We are planning to celebrate our accomplishment on the morning of Dec. 2 in the elementary gymnasium. Brenda Cassellius the Minnesota Education Commissioner and Jim Broich will be our distinguished guests for the event.
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