Summit schools coming up with goals for improvement |

Summit schools coming up with goals for improvement

Caitlin Row
Summit Daily News
Summit, CO Colorado
Summit Daily file photo/Mark FoxSummit Cove Elementary third-graders at work in their classroom this past November. 'Every school in the state is developing a school-improvement plan as part of the Colorado Department of Education's accountability program requirement,' said Summit School District spokeswoman Julie McCluskie. 'For us, it isn't just a requirement. It's a tool that we use to help guide our work with staff, students and community.'

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado – To advance its education for local students, all Summit County schools have developed individualized improvement plans for its students and staff, said Summit School District spokeswoman Julie McCluskie.

“Every school in the state is developing a school-improvement plan as part of the Colorado Department of Education’s accountability program requirement,” she said. “For us, it isn’t just a requirement. It’s a tool that we use to help guide our work with staff, students and community.”

McCluskie said each individual school plan works around the district’s goals – student instruction, student achievement, cultural proficiency and professional learning.

“Summit County is a very diverse community and every school serves a unique population of kids,” she said. “And that isn’t just demographics, that’s age.”

McCluskie used Dillon Valley Elementary and Frisco Elementary as examples of how one school’s needs can differ from another’s in the same district. Dillon Valley is a big elementary school with lots of English-language learners, and Frisco Elementary is a much smaller school with fewer English-language learners, she said.

“You need to look at it through a lens of ‘what do I have to do in my community to make it more successful?'” she said, noting that Dillon Valley would be more likely than Frisco to plan to work with staff on English-language instruction techniques.

Though Summit County schools developed individual plans including similar broad goals for improvements, each school created targets that are unique as well, McCluskie said. Here are exclusive improvement highlights from select schools in the area.

According to Frisco Elementary principal Renea Hill, Frisco Elementary is honing its student instruction through its improvement plan.

“We want to provide the best instruction for each child in our classrooms,” Hill said in an e-mail. “This year, teachers have spent time together learning about … instruction based on (a) student’s needs. Colleagues held a book study group and some staff have attended training to gain a better understanding of how to implement ideas in the classroom that will benefit every child.”

Hill also noted that there’s been changes made in classrooms to support recent brain research – it maximizes student learning by making instruction compatible with how the brain learns best.

“This method of thinking about learning encourages both students and teachers to be successful,” she said.

At Dillon Valley Elementary, part of its improvement plan is based around its dual-language program and well-rounded curriculum. All of its communication to parents and students is sent out in English and Spanish, and this goes hand-in-hand with the school’s cultural proficiency goal.

Dillon Valley’s staff has also initiated “a self-study process for the IB PYP program,” and each teacher in the school serves on a committee to learn about the needs of the school in relation to the IB standards.

Summit Cove Elementary individualized its goals to include “looking at all kids who live in poverty and how Summit Cove is trying to use all the McRel vocabulary strategies to further educate everyone.” It’s also looking at community support for students through book drives and family literacy nights.

At Upper Blue Elementary, teachers and support staff embraced Summit School District’s second goal – to ensure equity and access for all its students so everyone is assured a high-quality education regardless of differences. By using this district-wide goal, Upper Blue is embracing the concept of cultural proficiency. To do this, teachers and support staff gather every other Thursday morning to reflect on ways they can be more successful in working with students who represent a broad spectrum of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and economic subcultures.

“We are excited to look at this work as building bridges between cultures,” said principal Kerry Buhler in an e-mail. “Together we embrace the goal of learning more about our own cultures and about our school’s culture through meaningful interactions.”

Summit Middle School is deepening its instruction program using the frameworks in the IB Middle Years Program (MYP). It’s focused on “critical thinking, research and communication skills that enables (students) to solve complex problems and create valuable new paradigms.”

“The transformation in education we are going through today is dramatic and something parents should be able to relate to from their own schooling,” said a release from Summit Middle School.

To read individualized improvement plans for all Summit County schools, visit

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