There are a lot of things happening around the school district. Over the last few weeks, we have covered a couple topics at a time to provide a brief update. I will continue with this approach with some thoughts on different topics.
This week, the ROCORI Secondary campus houses the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce Showcase. This is a great opportunity for the school district to collaborate with community members to highlight the entire area.
The Showcase operates mostly in the north part of the High School building in the Commons and New Gym area. Although the district has been the host site for the event since its beginnings, the spaces available after the construction project have certainly enhanced the ability to host the Showcase. The Commons and Gym areas work nicely together to provide a larger area of access.
We have had some learning experiences with the Showcase. In our first year, we learned a lot about our electrical circuits within the area. An event like the Showcase tests the maximum extent of our circuitry in ways that we do not use for most of our events. We have been able to make some adjustments to the building based on the experiences and it has allowed us to better meet needs in and out of the district.
The Showcase event is a nice way to celebrate our community. Although the number of exhibitors and exhibits will grow until the day of the event, we were told recently that more than 80 different businesses and organizations will have booths and displays at the Showcase. There are a lot of opportunities for people of all ages with activities for children, giveaways from both the Chamber and vendors, and many things to see.
If you have opportunity, please feel free to visit the school site on Saturday, March 29, for the Chamber Showcase!
EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMMING
In the middle of March, the ROCORI Early Childhood programs held registration opportunities for the 2014-15 school year. Part of the purpose for early registration, which continues until classes are full, is to help understand parent needs, expectations and desires as well as help us plan more fully the scope of Early Childhood classes needed.
For those who have looked at the registration materials have probably realized that our program is in the midst of change with different options available for families. We have included some different class times, lengths, and types of instruction. We have extended classes from two days a week to options that include up to four days each week.
We are planning, at this point, to provide as much transportation as possible in the next school year. We know that transportation has been a barrier to participation in the past. We want to do what we are able to overcome barriers for families as much as we are able. Based on the registration, we are working on details related to the transportation process.
We have made decisions to focus our programming at the District Education Facility on two types of programs. We want to provide the best options and opportunities possible in Community Education and Early Childhood programming. Those two programs will be the core of what is offered at the DEF site.
As we look at next year, we are also in the process of working out details of Early Childhood screening programs. We know that we have been able to provide screening opportunities for large parts of our community in the past, but we want to make every effort to provide universal screening opportunities for students. We are looking at ways to provide more screening opportunities, more flexibility in the scheduling, and more convenience for families.
All of these adjustments are aimed at strengthening and enhancing our Early Childhood programs. The staff and coordinator, Jill Blomdahl Skanson, have worked very hard through this year to examine what we do and develop options for the future. The changes and adjustments have come through feedback from community, the needs expressed by families, and best practices within Early Childhood programming.
WORLD’S BEST WORK FORCE
I know I have shared information about this before, but as we are planning for 2014-15 and beyond, we are required to incorporate plans related to the development of the World’s Best Work Force. The 2013 legislature adopted some broad educational laws that have come to be known as the World’s Best Work Force requirements.
The legislation was introduced and approved as an effort to ensure that Minnesota schools produce high quality students who are able to function in work settings at the highest possible levels. The phrase, which has become the label for the legislation, was to ensure that Minnesota produced the “world’s best work force.”
The overview to the legislation on the Minnesota Department of Education’s information explains that “in order to create the world’s best workforce, it is imperative that academic achievement gaps are closed.”
The World’s Best Workforce legislation clearly identifies five specific goals for education in Minnesota. It sets high standards for the schools across the state to strive to meet.
The five goals include:
- Have all students meet school readiness goals.
- Have all third grade students achieve grade-level literacy.
- Close the academic achievement gap among all racial and ethnic groups of students and between students living in poverty and their more privileged peers as well as students receiving special education services and those that are not.
- Have all students graduate from high school.
- Have all students attain college and career preparedness.
Each school board in the state, according to the Department of Education, is required to adopt a plan to “support and improve teaching and learning that is aligned to the World’s Best Work Force.” The parameters each school district must meet include:
- Clearly defined locally developed student achievement goals and benchmarks.
- Process to evaluate each student’s progress toward meeting the state and local academic standards.
- A system to review and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction and curriculum.
- Practices that integrate high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, instructional technology, and a collaborative professional culture that supports teacher quality, performance, and effectiveness.
- Evidence-based strategies for improving effective classroom instruction, an articulated curriculum and use of student achievement results to drive instruction, and
- An annual budget for implementation and sustainability of district plan.
We continue to work on the plans for the World’s Best Work Force. We expect to share a more specific plan with the school board as we meet in April.