Focus on achievement | VailDaily.com
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Focus on achievement

From your personal “to do” list to the profit goals of a corporation, measurement is part of our lives. It is really very simple: Without measurement, there is no way to determine if we are making progress towards our goals.The Eagle County School District has a laser-like focus on the goal of increasing academic achievement among each and every student. This is the reason that we have chosen to take the more difficult road of implementing reform measures that change many things about the way public education has operated for the past 100 years. Clearly, it would be easier in the short term to maintain the status quo, but in the long term this would prove disastrous. We must prepare our students to compete in a global economy. Central to our reform effort is our commitment to placing a well-trained and well prepared teacher in front of every student, every day. Research supports that the quality of the teacher is the single most important factor in increasing student achievement. It is more important than class size, quality of a facility, or the latest trends in curriculum. We are fortunate in Eagle County to have excellent teachers who are dedicated to the goal of increasing student achievement. We want to help them continue to improve their instructional skills and reward them for their success.A change in how professional development is delivered along with the topics presented is a cornerstone in this reform effort. Gone are the days of a “one size fits all” teacher training day sandwiched into an already crowded annual schedule. Our teachers now have a minimum of two hours each week to work with a small peer group including master and mentor teachers to focus on one thing – improving student achievement. Assessment data is critical to this process. Our teachers are learning how to analyze individual student assessment data and make changes to a student’s instruction based on what they see. For instance, if a student is doing well in math overall but having problems with the concept of graphing, his instruction will be focused on graphing until he masters the concept.All children are different. They bring a variety of learning styles, maturation levels and vastly different life experiences to the classroom each day. Our reform efforts are focused on giving teachers the skills to understand as much as they can about each child and tailoring their instruction to those unique needs. We set the bar high for every student, understanding that this places stress on teachers, parents and students. We think it is worth it and look forward to the satisfaction we will all feel when that student gets into the college they set their sights on, or excel in their new job, or become one of our next elected officials. Anything worth having is worth fighting for.And that brings us to back to measure ment. As David Osborne and Ted Gaebler say in “Reinventing Government,” “If you don’t measure results, you can’t tell success from failure. If you can’t see success, you can’t reward it. If you can’t reward success, you’re probably rewarding failure. If you can’t recognize failure, you can’t correct it.” The CSAP testing that our students are involved in at this time is based on state standards and is designed to evaluate what students should know at a particular point in their education. This is just one form of measurement that we use. For more information about district reform efforts and the role that assessment plays, go to http://www.eagleschools.net and click on “Frequently Asked Questions.” I would like to close by thanking all of the students who exhibited incredible focus and dedication during this past week of CSAP testing. Our attendance was among the highest we’ve seen all year, and as I visited schools across the county I was impressed by the desire students have to do their best. I would also like to thank all of the parents who create a home atmosphere that supports the importance of learning all year long. Most of all, I’d like to thank our teachers who spend every day of every year preparing all students for success, not just in taking tests, but in becoming active and contributing members of society. If you have questions regarding our programs or policies, please feel free to call me at 328-6321 or e-mail me at jbrendza@eagleschools.net.John Brendza is the superintendent of the Eagle County School District.Vail, Colorado


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