Coldwater Academics First Initiative Plan Rolled Out

At Coldwater Community Schools, we are dedicated to excellence in educating all students.  However, when examining our test scores, we are aware that there is need for improvement in ensuring that all of our children are meeting high standards.

Coldwater Community Schools’ Academics First Initiative Plan was recently rolled out to parents at a Parent Advisory Council (PAC) meeting on March 20th.  This plan is designed to meet the mission of the school district through initiatives that provide the structure and strategies to ensure excellence in education over the next three to five years.

The most important element in creating conditions for student learning is the quality of teaching in the classroom.  A revised process for evaluating and supporting teachers has been adopted during the current school year.  After one year of practice in using this tool, we are able to provide much better feedback to teachers and administrators as we hold ourselves accountable for student learning.   Salary steps will be tied to student achievement/growth and graduation rates and, after providing opportunities and support for improvement, those faculty members who are not able to create conditions for student success will be released.

Over the past three years, we have made much better use of data in making instructional decisions and, as a result, our MEAP scores have improved.  In this plan, we will continue that trend and will increase high school graduation rates through credit recovery.  We will also establish early-warning systems to identify students at risk of failure or dropping out.  The number of accelerated placement classes will increase, and students at all levels will be better prepared to make transitions to the next grade level or to post-secondary schooling.

When creating schedules, we will prioritize academic learning and students will be provided rigorous interventions to address specific learning needs.  It is essential that teachers in a grade level or a department be provided time and support to examine data, plan powerful lessons, and intervene for students who may be struggling to master standards.  Grouping grade level students and staff together will allow us to schedule collaborative teacher planning.  It will also give us the structure to combine resources and to offer specialized teaching to meet developmental needs of our students.  To this end, Max Larsen Elementary will be the home of our Young Fives, kindergarten, and first grade students while second and third grade students will all learn together at Jefferson Elementary beginning in the fall of 2013.

Positive school climates, safe schools, and elimination of bullying behaviors will continue to be a priority in every building as we work in partnership with parents and community organizations.

The last part of the plan includes providing operational flexibility and sustained support giving schools sufficient operational flexibility (staffing, calendars/time, budgeting) to implement a comprehensive approach.  The district will also continue its work of ongoing intensive technical Assistance from the turnaround organization helping with Focus School work.

This is a two-tier plan which will be largely begun in the elementary buildings during the 2013-14 school year and in the middle school and high schools in the 2014-15 school year.  This plan will help our district in many ways, including improvement of test scores, higher quality teaching for our students, closer communication with parents and the public, and better preparation for college for our students. We are proud of the work of our staff as they have begun to implement this plan, and we look forward to great progress in the future.  The next Parent Advisory Council meeting is planned for April 16 at 6pm at Legg Middle School.  Please join us to discuss these exciting changes.

Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email attkerr@coldwaterschools.org or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org

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Coldwater Community Schools provides a supportive and challenging learning environment where every student is prepared to succeed in a global community.
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