Strategic Plan Printable Version
Del Norte County Unified School District
Vision and Mission
MissionIn Del Norte County, the youth in our schools will be life-long learners who can creatively and effectively communicate, collaborate, and problem solve in a global society.
Imagine every student
inspired, challenged, engaged and cared for by exceptional educators
Imagine your family
welcomed, respected and valued by exceptional schools
Imagine our Community
united, strengthened, and prepared for the 21st century
Del Norte County Unified School District:
Where a community of educators provide students with the knowledge, skills,
inspiration and confidence to succeed in college, career and community
District Goals 2012-2013
To realize this vision we must be clear about what success looks like:
Success = all students achieving.
With this Strategic Plan, we will hold ourselves accountable for achievement and growth at all levels from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. We will judge our success at both closing the achievement gap and accelerating learning for all students by using multiple data sources. Our work is aimed at creating a system that supports all our students in meeting or exceeding expectations, enabling them to graduate prepared for college, career and life.
This Strategic Plan is our road map to achieving this vision and meeting these goals. Over the next two years we will move forward with a set of foundational strategies that will help us focus our work.
Strategies for Action from Del Norte Engaged Learning Model
1. Strengthening Professional Staffa. Develop Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that incorporate a system wide protocol using common language.
b. Develop and use formative assessment data (short cycle) to drive instruction at all grade levels in all academic subjects.
c. Implement opportunities for collegial observation to support reflective teaching practice.
d. Plan and provide adequate time for meaningful teacher collaboration to support a highly engaged learning environment.
2. Ensuring Excellence in Every Classroom
a. Ensure that standards-focused instructional program is both highly effective and student engaging.
b. Use multiple assessment measures to show student mastery of standards.
3. Building Steps for Community
a. Establish behavioral expectations for all students at all schools as part of developing responsible citizens and productive members of society.
SETTING THE CONTEXT FOR CHANGE
Our Foundation for Success
Del Norte County public schools have the responsibility to ensure that every student in every school has the opportunity to excel, regardless of race, ethnicity or income level. This Strategic Plan provides our guide to meet that responsibility. It is built on the foundation of work accomplished by community groups, parents, teachers, school board members, and administrators. The plan outlines a set of foundational strategies that must be undertaken immediately and accomplished within the next few years to ensure equal access to excellence for every student in our schools.
The start for this Strategic Plan came as a result of several community reports from reform initiatives funded by local, state and national foundations that obtained extensive information from Del Norte County’s citizens:
1. In 2010 the DNCUSD formed the District Educational Leadership Team and Associates (DELTA) to replace the District Curriculum Coordinating Committee (DCCC). DELTA’s mission was to discussing current educational reform, visit highly successful schools across the nation, and make recommendations to the School Board regarding educational changes for the District.
2. In July 2010, two groups, the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) and the Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands (DNATL) created a community collaborative that wrote and submitted a Community Plan to The California Endowment (TCE), a state foundation.
3. In 2010-11, funded by TCE and Sutter Coast Hospital, the collaborative sought to improve education outcomes and formed the School System Implementation Team (SSIT) which conducted the Community Engagement Project, held public meetings, visited exemplary school sites across the nation, and collected data and information.
4. The DNCUSD formed a leadership group comprised of teachers and administrators in 2010-11, funded by the Cowell Foundation. Their task was to examine achievement data, hear speakers regarding successful school models, learn about Professional Learning Communities (PLC), study grading methods, visit exemplary school, and hold discussions regarding teaching practices in order to recommend system-wide changes for the District.
5. In April 2011 the DN Chamber of Commerce held an economic summit called “The Economics of Education” and other ad hoc meetings which resulted in recommendations to DNCUSD School Board called “A Moment in Time: Our Community Speaks About School Change”.
6. In November 2011 DNCUSD received notice that their i3 federal grant application was successfully funded, therefore fiscal support would be available for reform initiatives recommended by these groups.
In the belief that all residents have a stake in the education of our students, we have received input from as many groups as possible, including ethnic, bilingual, cultural, and business groups; special education, curricular, and extra-curricular committees; teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. We appreciate the time that all participants have given us as they reviewed our current situation and offered feedback. And while, by its very design, the Strategic Plan cannot address every concern or every aspect of District operations, this Plan is stronger because of the input we received. It addresses critical needs and gaps while ensuring the continuation of high quality programs that work well. The foundational information gathered by these people will help ensure that the goals we set are achievable, that our progress is measurable and that we are accountable to our community.
Our District Commitments:
Each strategy we propose is based on specific goals so that we can measure our progress. We will commit to clear and timely communication so that staff, families and community members are informed of our steps and have the opportunity to share their suggestions in the future.
Great Opportunity, Many Challenges
Educational reform movements coming from administration, teachers, students, parents, and public groups have merged in a way to offer our school district a great opportunity to set well-founded goals and use resources to support change initiatives. Because of numerous meetings held over the last few years bringing data and information from all corners of the county, the community has united in the need for educational change and in the focus for that change. In Del Norte, we believe that all students can achieve and that together, as a community, we can ensure that they do.
With this opportune moment we also face challenges in education that are not unique to Del Norte County:
BUILDING ON OUR STRENGTHS – ADDRESSING OUR CHALLENGES
Legacy of Ongoing Planning:
The District uses several ongoing structures that provide staff, parents and the public opportunities for advising curriculum, instruction, and student academic needs yearly. Two teacher-administrator committees called DCCC and later, DELTA , consist of district leaders bringing information from school sites in order to support staff needs for professional development, changes in report cards and parent conference scheduling, selection of textbooks, and other common interests. Additionally, each school has a School Site Council comprised of elected parents, teachers, classified staff, and sometimes students to receive information about their school and district, to provide a format for asking questions and making suggestions, to learn about each school’s “School Plan” and finally, to make recommendations about funding and programs. The District Parent Advisory Committee meets and reviews each schools plans. The DNCUSD School Board also meets to hear information on a larger scale, take public and employee input, and make plans to guide the District.
Superintendents have established community working groups like the Blue Ribbon Committee to gain community perspectives on local education, discuss issues, and make recommendations to the School Board. Partnerships with local agencies like the First Five have resulted in obtaining grants to fund common goals including the search for an educational model and a community engagement process.
Since 2010, several community-based organizations have collaborated with the District to examine education in Del Norte: Building Healthy Communities, Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands, The California Endowment, and the Cowell Foundation formed working committees, conducted surveys and school site meetings, sent leaders to visit model school programs, and brought facilitators to the county to work with the community. The Community Engagement for School Change project report was presented to the School Board and public. This Strategic Plan reflects the broad expanse of information gathered by these groups.
The District has looked at many strategies to down-size and cut back. We have sought grants that support professional development like TAH, QEIA, CaMSP, Reading First, and i3 in order to continue to provide high level support for staff. Each year we have applied for technology grants (EETT) to purchase new equipment and provide instruction to fully use it. A fundamental commitment in this Strategic Plan is that it includes only strategies that can be achieved within our budget or with additional resources that have been identified and targeted.
Strong programs that can be taken to scale: Schools that were funded by Reading First in 2006-2010 showed significant progress in English/Language Arts achievement scores. Coordinated by a Literacy Lead/Coach, teachers use data to analyze student achievement and target future instruction. This concept is a key part of the i3 grant in which we hope to spread the use of data analysis to drive instruction across schools within and outside of our county.
High quality, hard working staff: Professional Development offered within the county has been an important factor in building a cadre of expert teachers at DNCUSD. They are also truly dedicated to helping students achieve state standards. Many of our teachers also volunteer to tutor beyond the school day to assist students.
PLC: DNCUSD has been developing Professional Learning Communities during the past five years through its participation in a variety of other programs. There is an acceptance of this type of meeting for the purpose of collegial sharing across the county.
DNELM: Del Norte Engaged Learning Model is the collaboratively developed reform model of education that will guide Del Norte Unified School District for the future. See pages 15-17 for a detailed description and outline of the Del Norte Engaged Learning Model.
Tools for tracking progress: Elementary school text materials have standards-based assessments built into their teacher guides so that many schools are using assessment tools frequently. Some have grade level meetings to discuss progress and others do not. Middle and high schools vary widely as to their use of assessment tools. There is a need for teacher collaboration to develop or select assessments that are standards-based and appropriate for use to drive instruction.
Struggling schools and students receive inconsistent and inadequate support: Several of our schools are not set up to provide interventions within the school day. Systems of interventions need to be developed to provide support to students not achieving proficiency and to provide opportunities for re-teaching and intervention.
Common Expectations for Achievement: Del Norte’s schools take on many configurations: Pre-K-5, K-5, K-8, 6-8 middle school, 9-12 high school, independent study, charter schools, continuation high school and community schools. Teachers must collaborate to have a common language about learning, agreement on assessment tools and mastery of standards. The District will continue to have a common expectation of continued growth on achievement scores for each school.
How Action Will Lead to Results
To ensure the success of this Strategic Plan and long-term, system-wide improvement, we began our work by studying the successes and struggles of the past decade. We examined the reviews that had been conducted, and read research to determine how we could best meet goals. This “theory of action,” a set of beliefs around what system-level actions will lead to the greatest change in student outcomes, is what DELTA has adopted:
• High quality instruction: The quality of teaching and learning is our most important measure of success. We must focus our attention on strategies that will provide the greatest and most direct contribution to instructional change that supports student learning.
• High quality leadership: Our District staff model learning. They make our schools places of community and excitement. They are our heart and soul. To succeed, our district must have high quality instructional leadership in each classroom, in each school and overall district. Our leaders must be supported and guided by the Superintendent and School Board and by our policies and strategies. We must ensure that we attract high-quality talent and that we nurture staff to help them grow and develop in their positions.
• First things first: We have many needs. However, we must focus our attention first on those things that will strengthen our foundation and directly improve student learning.
By focusing on these three areas, and with effective outreach to and engagement with staff, families and community members, we will be able to move forward in a careful and intentional way, with a clear understanding of how our work today will lead to results tomorrow.
Foundational Strategies: First Things First
These strategies outline the efforts we will undertake over the next several years. This report, and the description of the strategies, however, does not describe in great detail all of the work that will occur to accomplish each effort. The following pages provide short summaries of each strategy. Additional information will be shared with staff, families and community stakeholders as each strategy moves forward.
1. Strengthening Professional Staff
a. Develop Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that incorporate a system-wide protocol using common language
Background: The District has established leaders who will lead and participate in PLCs to improve achievement and teaching practice at school sites.
The Need: Every teacher in the District will be part of a PLC, understand common protocols, and have a structured time to meet with his/her PLC. Each school must have the appropriate tools, that is, PLC Professional Development, computers and structured time for collaboration to support PLC work.
Immediate Actions: The Curriculum and Instruction staff and DELTA will make plans for new and refresher PLC trainings for effective communication for 2011-2012. Site leaders and administrators will collaborate to determine the PLC needs at each site and develop a calendar for collaboration.
Measuring Impact: Site Principals and Leadership Team will supply evidence of established PLCs, meeting times and dates, and data showing their work. The i3 Grant Coordinator and Asst. Superintendent will provide information to the Board of Education of PLC participation for each site.
b. Develop and use formative assessment data (short cycle) to drive instruction at all grade levels in all academic subjects
Background: The District is setting high standards for teaching through the use of formative assessments that check for student mastery of standards and subjects.
The Need: Teachers will work as PLCs and Data Teams to select or design appropriate formative assessment materials to be used in all core subjects every three to six weeks. Teachers will have timely data to monitor student progress toward mastery of standards. For consistency, the same measurement tools will be used in same grade levels and academic subject areas across the District and will be developed prior to instruction.
Immediate Actions: The Asst. Superintendent, i3 Grant Coordinator, and Ed. Services Coordinator will make plans for Data Team Trainings for use of data to drive instruction for 2012-2013. Data teams were trained for each site in the district. The Educational Technology Coordinator will provide technology and software training to support Data Team work from Illuminate Ed, Google Apps, video chat, discussion boards.
Measuring Impact: Newly developed formative assessments, data collected through their use, and spreadsheets with assessment results will be evidence of this action taken.
c. Implement opportunities for collegial observation to support reflective teaching practice
Background: Research has shown that a high level of teacher collaboration will lead to the sharing of the most effective instructional practices. Teachers observing other teachers using high impact instructional practices can be a powerful way to improve instructional methods.
The Need: Identify and establish high impact instructional practices to be used across grade levels so that we can share these practices through the PLCs. Identify the amount of time for teachers to spend on classroom observations. Develop the criteria and procedures for classroom observations including a focus area for observation, reflection on that observation, feedback, and plans to implement changes in instructional practice.
Immediate Actions: A District-wide leadership team (DELTA) will discuss and identify the amount of time to be spent on classroom observation, the criteria and procedures for classroom observations, and the selection of high impact instructional practices.
Measuring Impact: In the fall of 2012, the District Leadership Team will provide the Superintendent with a document outlining the structure for teachers to observe other teachers in their classrooms. A list of research-based high impact instructional practices to be used at different grade levels will be selected by grade level PLCs, DELTA and the Curriculum and Instruction Department.
d. Plan and provide adequate time for meaningful teacher collaboration to support a highly engaged learning environment
Background: We know from research that creating a collective perspective and having a collaborative planning time will help teachers to define and focus their instruction. Subject area experts can assist other teachers in analyzing student data and carefully crafting lessons to ensure the rigor, relevance and engagement leading to greater student success.
The Need: Not all schools have opportunities for communicating or planning with other teachers with similar teaching subjects, grade levels, or students.
Immediate Actions: Multiple PLCs will be developed at each site based on specific site needs. All staff will be engaged in PLC’s for Language Arts and Mathematics. Some sites may develop PLCs to work on attendance or other school issues. Site Administration will work with their PLC leaders to provide a calendar of PLC meeting times for the site.
Measuring Impact: Site Principals and their PLCs will develop plans for weekly collaboration times (who, where, when, what, how long) and present them to the Asst. Superintendent and Ed Services Coordinator. Data from student work will be available on Illuminate Education.
2. Ensuring Excellence in Every Classroom
a. Ensure that the standards-focused instructional program is both highly effective and student engaging
Background: We will continue to focus on improving standards-based instruction (Common Core) through teacher work at PLC meetings, by classroom observations, and with the use of data to target next steps of instruction. In addition, trainings will be provided to improve the rigor and relevance of assignments to improve student engagement.
The Need: Although instruction may be standards-based, there is the need to personalize each child’s learning, to differentiate instruction, and select that instruction which is most effective and engaging.
Immediate Actions: Teacher leaders will identify engaging and effective instructional practices and resources to be used at grade levels district-wide.
Measuring Impact: Teachers participating in PLCs will discuss grade level standards-learning targets and available teaching resources. Curriculum matrices for each grade level will be created to list grade level teaching resources aligned with standards-based learning targets.
b. Use multiple assessment measures to show student mastery of standards
Background: The Community Engagement for School Change Project listed standards and performance-based assessments as the number one change needed to improve DNCUSD school instruction.
The Need: We recognize the variety of learning styles in each classroom, seek to engage each child to master each standard, and will provide multiple means of assessing that mastery, i.e. formative assessments, student projects, rubrics, etc.
Immediate Actions: The Curriculum and Instruction Department will work with teachers representing academic subjects and grade levels to develop a menu of assessments to be used to show student mastery of grade level standards.
Measuring Impact: The District will develop a menu of assessments to use as a measure to show mastery of standards, including rubrics to assess proficiency for some content subjects.
c. Ensure that student progress through the school system is based on achievement of Common Core State Standards
Background: The community has expressed a concern that students are not promoted based on the same criteria. Each child’s mastery of standards at grade level or in subject areas should be the criteria for passing.
The Need: There is a need to have the same set of criteria for promotion, that is, the mastery of state standards.
Immediate Actions: The Asst. Superintendent will oversee the strengthening of K-3 report cards that clearly outline standards to be met. A DELTA sub-committee will create grades 4-12 standards-based report cards. The superintendent will work with the Board to develop targeted response to students failing a grade level. For example, a district policy could be developed stating that all third grade students not reading at grade level will attend summer school.
Measuring Impact: Academic milestones, included in this report, will be monitored by the Curriculum and Instruction Department. Report cards for grades 4-12 will reflect state standards.
d. Develop a Standards-based reporting device for grades K-12
Background: K-3 District report cards show student progress on mastery of state standards but 4-12 grade report cards do not give these details.
The Need: There is a need to redesign report cards in grades K-12 so that teachers, parents, and students can clearly tell which standards have been met.
Immediate Actions: Teachers and administrators will work together to strengthen K-3 report cards and create 4-12 standards-based report cards.
Measuring Impact: New report cards reflecting Common Core State Standards will be the evidence of this change.
e. Ensure that interventions for students failing to meet standards are provided before, during and after the school day.
Background: Both grant funds and Title 1 money have been used for before and after school programs since 2000. Some schools have also developed periods of time within the school day to provide additional targeted instruction to ensure that students master grade level standards.
The Need: Each school site will develop a means to deliver interventions during the regular school day for students that are failing to master standards.
Immediate Actions: Site administrators and PLC Teams will develop a schedule for interventions that take place during the regular school day.
Measuring Impact: Site administration will report to the School Board and public which interventions will be used at their sites and provide data on their effectiveness.
3. Building Steps for Community
a. Establish behavior expectations for all students at all schools as part of developing responsible citizens and productive members of society
Background: There is a sense that the code of conduct is not the same for students at all schools in the District.
The Need: There is a need to develop a collaborative “Code of Conduct” at each school site.
Immediate Actions: Begin collaborative process to develop code of conduct for each site and publish each site’s code of conduct.
Measuring Impact: Evidence of completed and published Codes of Conduct at each site and student discipline data.
b. Empower parents to be involved the education of their students
Background: We would like parents and the community to be our partners in educating their children, but the truth is that families don’t always feel comfortable communicating with the school. Additionally, the community doesn’t see itself connected to education.
The Need: the Community Engagement for School Change Project has made us aware that schools need to focus on family/teacher/student/community relationships. Besides offering parent conferences twice a year, support for families can take other forms and involve community partners.
Immediate Actions: Schools will develop additional ways of connecting parents with the school like offering parenting skills, ESL/literacy courses, and other enrichment programs on the school site. The Educational Services Coordinator will work with school site councils, community agencies, school psychologists and counselors to develop parent programs using Parent Involvement funds. The developed programs will be offered to schools throughout the district.
Measuring Impact: Principals will report to the Superintendent about programs, events, classes, and other ways that their schools have reached out to connect with parents.
c. Build partnerships with businesses and community members to be involved in education
Background: The Community Engagement for School Change project noted that partnerships to improve educational achievement for all youth needed to be forged with businesses, service groups, and community volunteers.
The Need: There is a need to recognize, formalize, and encourage new partnerships between schools and business and community members in order to improve student achievement, transition to work or college, and citizens in the county.
Immediate Actions: Strengthen the Schools of Hope Project with the United Way to include additional grade levels. Seek additional partnerships with community businesses and County Agencies.
Measuring Impact: The Curriculum and Instruction Department will report on the effectiveness of the impact of the Schools of Hope Project. They will work with high school and middle school principals to develop partnerships with businesses and the community. District and site administrators will develop a strategy to increase involvement over the next two years.
d. Embed life skills, college, and career readiness into educational programs at all grade levels
Background: Both teachers and community members noted the importance of “life skills” and participants in the Community Engagement for School Change project were clear that the education system should focus on establishing core “life skills” in students before they transition out of the K-12 system.
The Need: As the District focuses on meeting standards, many students leave school without plans for the future including life skills or plans for college and a career.
Immediate Actions: District and Site Leadership team will develop a life skills matrix. With the success of AVID, we will explore ways to provide AVID-type strategies in grades 5-12. Middle and high schools will develop AIM, an apprenticeship program for career exploration (3 experiences) and portfolio with exit plan.
Measuring Impact: An annual summary report will be made to the School Board about progress on a “life skills” matrix, career pathways, and career exploration programs.
e. Maximize resources to provide enrichment and extra curricular activities at all grade levels
Background: The Community Engagement for School Change project noted that participants wanted the school system to provide art, music, dance, theater, physical education, and technical and vocational education (as appropriate). Teachers and administrators recognize the positive impact that enrichment and extra curricular activities have on students and how they help to connect them with school.
The Need: With a focus on meeting standards for academic subjects and reduced funding for schools, there is a need to find ways to support enrichment programs during and after the school day.
Immediate Actions: The Superintendent will meet with the Leadership Team to evaluate and restructure the District’s K-12 Visual and Performing Arts Program.
Measuring Impact: The Superintendent will report to the board on the restructuring of the Visual and Performing Arts Program.
Del Norte Engaged Learning Model