509-J gears up for student achievement
Superintendent Ken Parshall gave details on School District 509-J's action plan to improve student achievement at the Dec. 11 board of directors meeting.
He said teachers in all 509-J schools have received training in researched-based teaching strategies Advance Via Individual Determination, known as AVID, and Writing to learn: Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization and Reading, known as WICOR.
"It creates a common language districtwide. WICOR strategies are like a menu for teachers to choose from," Parshall said.
During late start Mondays, teachers discuss and collaborate, at each grade level, to develop unified plans for each unit to be taught.
The goal is, "Next fall, for new teachers hired, we can give them a booklet of everything (being taught) for their grade level," Parshall said, noting the booklet is a guide and teachers still develop their own lesson plans.
Professional learning communities are also being formed. School teacher teams meet weekly to plan, and at the end of each unit of instruction, meet with a district team to review student learning results.
Melinda Boyle, director of instruction, explained two student support systems 509-J has been using for several years, Response to Instruction and Intervention, or RTIi, and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, or PBIS.
RTIi includes three levels of extra help for both academics and behavior: all students, those needing moderate support, and high-risk students as well as Talented and Gifted students.
PBIS includes behavior support systems for schools, the home and the community. It ranges from things for all students, such as health screenings, to behavior plans for kids with some problems, to intensive interventions for troubled students, including mental health counseling and parenting classes (from home and community areas).
Boyle said at the beginning of the year, students have lessons on expectations such as how to walk in the hall and proper voice levels.
"We have a counseling grant which is providing half-time counselors in all K-12 schools," Boyle said, but noted the grant is only funded through the end of this school year.
She said teachers and counselors track students in each school. "They actually run spread sheets and assign a staff member to meet with students and come up with a plan," Boyle said.
A new Response to Intervention Grant of $6,356 was received from the Oregon Department of Education and approved at the meeting.
Under personnel, longtime counselor Julie Nisley's request was approved to retire from PERS, but continue working until the end of the school year.
Board member Courtney Snead reported on a $30,000 "planning year grant" the district received from ODE to try to qualify for a full, three-year Collaboration Fund Grant for professional development and leadership opportunities for teachers.
The grant covers four areas: expanded career path, effective evaluations, professional development, and new compensation models – as alternatives to traditional salary schedules. Snead is part of the team working on the planning grant.
The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Jan. 8.