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Summit Schools super to set goals

Janice Kurbjun
summit daily news

Superintendent Heidi Pace’s draft goals proposal includes closing the achievement gap – by raising achievement for low performers – to or better than state levels by the end of the 2011-12 school year.

The goals will be revised before being presented in a final version to board members for approval at an upcoming regular meeting. Pace presented them in draft form at the Summit School District Board of Education retreat Tuesday.

“Is that realistic?” Boardmember J Kent McHose asked about the achievement goal. Board vice president Sheila Groneman said the district has been working on the Closing the Achievement Gap initiative for three years, and there are still significant gains to be made.

“We have to set lofty goals,” Pace said. “In my mind we have got to go for the state gap or better.”

To speed up the process, Pace intends to “deepen” current initiatives.

“It’s been a surface-level implementation,” she said. “We need to take it much deeper and implement some of these things with fidelity.”

Tools already in place to further the goal are weekly meetings with principals, research-based curriculum and data gleaned from assessments that occur throughout the year. To go deeper means getting that data in the hands of teachers as soon as possible so it can be used to help children learn.

“Right now, they’re not even seeing the data,” Pace said, adding that when that piece is in place, the district will see “huge shifts very quickly.”

Former interim superintendent Karen Strakbein didn’t deny that the goal might be achievable. She said the past three to four years have been a process of fine-tuning operations to make them most efficient and impactful for teachers. Rather than add to their plates, she said, the initiatives are meant to streamline a difficult task of catering instruction to each child.

Pace also said reading and writing achievement is shown to improve by enhancing the subjects’ presence across the curriculum.

“In most systems, you should double what you’re doing,” she said.

Board members appeared to buy into the argument during their discussion when they asked Pace if there’s enough money to support the effort. If not, they’re willing to seek more resources to ensure its viability.

“It’s more a function of time,” Pace said. “I don’t see implementing a lot of new, costly things. It’s more rolling up your sleeves and using what’s there.”

Pace sought feedback on other goals, such as a Colorado Department of Education mandate to hold community discussions on post-graduate and workforce readiness skills the community believes students will need – and revising graduation requirements according to the discussions and according to information to be released by the state agency.

Other goals are consistent with what’s currently in place for cultural proficiency, classroom instruction and professional development.

“There’s enough that’s already been initiated that just needs to be continued,” she said.

When asked how board members can quantify and evaluate Pace’s progress on the goals, she said she’ll develop action plans, with timelines, specific to each goal once they’re approved.


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