SHERIDAN — Sheridan County School District 1 has rolled out a new strategic plan that aims to have a districtwide minimum of 90 percent proficiency in math and reading by the end of the 2014 school year. In order to develop the plan and its goals, the district held a series of public meetings this spring with various stakeholders in the community.
“The strategic plan is what came out of that activity where we have all those people who met and we asked what they liked about what we were doing and what they didn’t and how we could improve going forward,” SCSD 1 Superintendent Marty Kobza said. “It sets a plan for areas of focus moving forward in the next few years. It actually came from our stakeholders and what they thought was important.”
SCSD 1 covers schools in Big Horn, Dayton and Ranchester.
The new plan includes several approaches, including individualized learning plans for each student and working with sixth-, eighth- and 10th-grade students on developing two-year plans, which aim to help them reach learning goals as they approach graduation.
“It is something we’ve been starting on previously and it had been going on somewhat in the district but we are getting more specific about those,” Kobza said. “They aren’t just goals we’ll put on the wall, but they will be monitored.”
In the plan, the district has also expanded its partnership with Sheridan College to allow juniors and seniors to take up to 40 free college credits at the college. In the past, students were restricted to just 12 hours of college credit hours. The college credit courses available cover a variety of subjects and technical training classes.
To help reach the reading goal, the district will implement a full-immersion literacy program for elementary students. Kobza noted that literacy is particularly important for younger students, who need to be reading at grade level by the third grade, in order to not fall behind in other areas as their school careers progress.
“Literacy is embedded in everything we have, whether it is social studies or obviously, language arts, but even in math, literacy is a key component,” he said. “It is a really important focus. We know if that isn’t there, many of the other areas will struggle.”
The district is already at or very close to the 90 percent proficiency rate in several areas, according to 2013 PAWS results. For instance, scores of at least 85 percent proficient or advanced were reached in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade math, as well as fifth- and eighth-grade reading.
On a districtwide basis, SCSD 1 scored 85.41 percent proficient in math, 83.45 percent proficient in reading and 61.7 percent proficient in science (science is only tested in fourth and eighth grades and on ACT tests for juniors). Statewide proficiency percentages were lower at 77.27 percent in math, 74.83 in reading and 51.37 in science.
Additionally, the district scored better than the statewide average in every category except fourth-grade science. However, science scores in general were lower than in past years, due to a change in testing format and new curriculum standards administrators said. The lower science scores were a trend statewide.
Kobza noted that one concern voiced by attendees of the public meetings was the need for better communication between the district and the public. The district has since contracted with Kelly Gould Pascal, a local public relations representative, to help improve communications between the district, parents, teachers and other community members as the district moves forward implementing the plan.
More information about the plan can viewed on the district’s website at www.sheridan.k12.wy.us.