We need a Strategic Plan and a District Report Card!
The school board must lead in this area. Like our neighboring districts, we must create a district-wide plan of goals and track performance. The SVSD does not do this; we have not established district-wide goals or measurements of success. I encourage you to ask for it, and please keep in mind that a mission statement is not a plan. We desperately need to establish goals and assess performance to monitor how well we are educating students and preparing them for today’s world. We can’t just celebrate when, for example, our SAT scores are above the state average. An example of a real measurement of success is to determine whether a higher percentage of students are taking the SAT or whether scores improved over the last 5 years. And, by the way the answer to that is NO. I believe that the school board must be the leadership that drives this process. This is not unusual, this is actually the most important job the school board should be doing.
I am going to use our neighbor Issaquah’s Governance and Accountability model as a great example of a district-wide planning and performance tracking tool.
The Issaquah school board develops the Policy Governance model which defines their mission and what they call “Ends” which are “areas of knowledge and skill that all students must master by graduation to successfully live and compete in today’s global environment”. They go on to say that “The Mission and Ends set the educational direction for the entire District”. Their plan was developed with input from the community. The school board regularly monitors progress towards these “Ends” throughout the year with reports from the administration, and they discuss this in board meetings publicly throughout the year. Annually, they prepare a “Score Card” of “Key Performance Indicators”. I love this report card. They describe it as a “snapshot of our student performance across a variety of grade levels and multiple areas measured against established targets. It enables us to reflect on our achievement over time and analyze patterns and trends.” Isn’t that great! You can see their 2011/2012 report card at Issaquah School District 2011 Score Card
In this Score Card, you will see that the district is working towards specific goals over time such as the % of students who meet or exceed the Middle School Reading assessment, the % of 9th graders enrolled in Geometry or above, the Graduation Rate – they aim for 100% (zero dropouts) by the way, and the % of students who meet college admission requirements. This is a clear measure of where the district is going and how they are doing. But, they go further to provide information as to why these measures are important. I love this model.
We must implement something similar here – a strategic plan with a report card of results. How else can we prioritize budget, staffing, and building use decisions? How else can we determine whether we are improving each year? How else can we determine if programs or spending decisions are working? As a school board member, I will encourage the development of a strategic plan and a report card model immediately.