Windsor transforms schools using key focus areas
By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Thu., Aug. 15, 2013
Windsor public schools have a busy year ahead. The district is approaching its second year of the Alliance Grant and continues to work toward new goals set by the Board of Education, as Windsor will be required to adopt the Common Core State Standards within a year.
In the first year of the Alliance Grant, which was awarded to assist the district with closing the achievement gap, the BOE established nine skills and behaviors it expects students to acquire from the school system. As a result, last year the district constructed a set of performance metrics.
“The first goal is an academic goal, so we can use standardized test data for that,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Villar. “As we go deeper into the goals, there are desires for students to collaborate and work with technology, have interpersonal skills, and other things that are very complex and difficult to measure through the standardized tests.”
Among the other goals are effective oral communication, critical thinking and complex problem-solving, understanding the global nature of today's world, behaviors associated with good citizenship, graduating with a post-secondary plan, and understanding the importance of health and wellness.
In order to continue developing indicators to adequately measure the progress of the expectations established by the BOE, the district is creating curricular units and performance tasks throughout the curriculum. Upon the students' completion of the tasks, data will be collected and then reported to the board.
Aside from working towards reaching the goals established by the BOE, Windsor plans to focus on curriculum development and implementation. Villar believes that reviewing and revising the course of study is necessary at least every five years.
“There was a huge amount of curriculum work that was done associated with the grant, and there continues to be,” said Villar. “As we move into this year, the goal ultimately is to revise all the district curriculum so we are fully aligned with the new Common Core State Standards.”
Windsor began preparing last year by creating several language arts and mathematics pilot programs. The lesson plans were constructed with the CCSS in mind, and due to their success, the district will be integrating the programs into the new curriculum this year, according to Villar.
In conjunction with the implementation of revised curriculum, Windsor will be executing new faculty assessments using the Connecticut's System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED). Villar said the data from educator evaluations and the assessment data on the student side provide a clear understanding of the district's progress.
“For example, if next year we get results back in reading indicating the district has improved 10 percent, we can compare that result to the extent that we believe teachers have fully implemented the new curriculum and are utilizing instructional strategies provided to them through professional development,” said Villar. “So we can see whether or not the adult actions have made an impact on the students.”
Lastly, the district has efforts in place to ensure the schools have a positive and supportive climate. The environment is expected to maximize learning opportunities and encompass all students. Windsor's mission to produce such a climate is a result of surveying parents, teachers and students for two consecutive years.