Continuous and intentional improvement is essential for the growth and success of any organization. Public schools are no different. Prompted by the designation of our middle school as a “Targeted Support” school for achievement score disparities between our all student group and our students with disabilities subgroup, we have chosen to participate in a formal comprehensive needs assessment process vetted by the South Dakota Department of Education and piloted by other school districts to examine our practices around the four components of Effective Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Talent Development, and Family, Culture, and Climate.
This process is intended to provide us insight and shared direction as we work to improve results for all of our students. Much of our focus will be on data that we will gather through a variety of methods including student surveys, staff surveys, parent surveys, observation data, lesson plan analyses, and personal interviews. It is important that you choose to actively participate in those survey and/or interview opportunities whenever possible to give us the best information possible from which to make strategic planning decisions. Your first opportunity for such participation will be during fall parent-teacher conferences on Thursday, October 17.
This year long process will be encompassed by five primary steps: Planning, Collecting/Organizing Data, Analyzing Data, Prioritizing Needs, and Connecting to Implementation.
The district team appointed to conduct this work which will extend through the entire 2019-2020 school year are Joe Schwan, Brett Schwan, Kiersten Sombke, Becky Erickson, Ashley Seeklander, Brooke Compton, Anne Zoellner, and Sue Fjeldheim. To date, the team has attended two days of training in Watertown and has begun to finalize the survey tools that will be administered to various stakeholder groups. It is anticipated that data collection and organization will be completed by the middle of December followed by Analysis in early 2020 with a comprehensive plan being adopted in the spring of 2020 for implementation in the fall of 2020.
We believe that our school district is strong and that we consistently offer our students the best opportunity for long-term success after they’ve graduated. Through this process, we hope to be able to build upon our very strong foundation to be the best school district in South Dakota.