• March 13, 2018

    Narrowing our focusSuperintendent A. Katrise Perera

    March 2018 Superintendent's Message

    Dear Staff,

    The second half of the 2017-18 school year is underway and I continue to be inspired by the work I see going on in many of our schools. Although I have been impressed with many classrooms I have visited, I also contemplate the performance gaps and the need for our schools to provide opportunities for students to connect with their schools, career pathway options, access to technology, and digital literacy. I continue to be concerned with the size of our classes, the need for more instructional resources, a systematic approach to our work, and the ever-increasing demand for wraparound services for our students. 

    Academic audit guides improvement efforts

    As you know, last fall an academic audit was conducted of the district to explore in depth our educational programs and determine how we can improve. The audit also confirmed the challenges listed above.

    While the audit results will eventually be used to develop a 3-5 year strategic plan for the district and its schools, the first step the District Leadership Team (DLT) took was to analyze the findings, so we could narrow the focus and develop a doable number of district-wide priorities.

    The DLT not only reviewed the academic audit results, but also analyzed findings from my listening and learning tour and the research and identification phases of my transition plan. We also took a close look at feedback from Key Communicator groups and the review of the special education program.

    Narrowing our focus

    Narrowing our focus was no easy task. For instance, the academic audit contained eleven recommendations. The team took these recommendations and created seven areas of urgency needing to be addressed: 

    • Systems Thinking
    • Initiative Fatigue
    • Instructional Technology
    • Curricular Consistency Between Schools
    • Commitment to Good Instruction
    • Development of an Equity Plan
    • Increase 21st Century Opportunities for All

    After reflecting on these seven key areas of urgency we once again shared them with stakeholders resulting in the identification of three priorities that would address these areas.

    GBSD Priority Focus Areas

    • Priority 1 - Build a framework that defines and aligns curriculum assessment in academic areas, social emotional learning, and digital literacy.

      • Key Areas of Urgency to be addressed: Systems Thinking, Instructional Technology, Curricular Consistency Between Schools, Commitment to Good Instruction, Develop the Equity Plan, and Increase 21st Century Opportunities for All
    • Priority 2 - Build systems that give students a voice and make them feel comfortable, appreciated, and understood.

      • Key Areas of Urgency to be addressed: Systems Thinking, Initiative Fatigue, Instructional Technology, Curricular Consistency Between Schools, Commitment to Good Instruction, and Develop the Equity Plan
    • Priority 3 - Build a framework that is committed to high-quality, effective instructional practices.

      • Key Areas of Urgency to be addressed: Systems Thinking, Initiative Fatigue, Instructional Technology, Curricular Consistency Between Schools, Commitment to Good Instruction, and Develop the Equity Plan

    Next steps

    What’s next? The priority focus areas will be given actionable steps, aligned with future school board goals, and strategically funded. The priorities will be addressed using a phased approach, with initial implementation set to begin in the fall of 2018.

    Identification of core values

    As we move forward with developing a strategic plan for the district, to compliment the three priority focus areas, the school board has adopted a set of core values. It is my intent to focus the school district on these values and ensure they are also a part of our strategic planning and blended into future goals.

    Students benefit

    We have much work to do. But—it’s exciting work and the beneficiary of these efforts are our students, who are relying on us to provide them the very best education possible so they can lead successful, fulfilling lives.

    Watch for updates as the strategic plan continues to take shape. Our goal is that it guides and supports every teacher and every student, every day, and in every classroom—no excuses.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. A. Katrise Perera

    Superintendent of Schools