On Saturday, I was part of a 1000+ person effort to carry out strategic planning for the St. Louis Public Schools. The effort is being led by the Special Administrative Board of the St. Louis Public Schools, supported by hundreds of volunteers.
The SLPS is embarking on an effort to increase the district's performance according to the 30 MSIP (Missouri School Improvement Program) benchmark measures. The event took place at Vashon High School and opened with introductions by SAB members Rick Sullivan, Melanie Adams and Richard Gaines. Gaines is heading up the strategic planning process.
Participants were divided into groups, each focusing on a different area of school performance. I was placed in the "Reading at Grade Level" section. Under this section, meeting standard means one of two things: either a student is reading at grade level, or he/she is placed into an intervention program to improve reading ability. In the SLPS, approximately 20 percent of students are rated at reading at a proficient or advanced level.
Our reading subgroup consisted of about 30 participants, assisted by a facilitator. We began by identifying strategies. Then we voted on the strategies to be forwarded to the SLPS for possible implementatation. The commitment by the SLPS is to keep the community informed of the results of the strategic planning process and the success in implementing the plan.
Our group voted to endorse five strategies (in no particular order):
1. Provide reading labs and specialists
2. Increase professional development for all teachers
3. Reduce class size, and provide in-class differentiation based on student ability (cost factor to do this a concern)
4. Test students before they start first grade or kindergarten to determine reading level. (MAP testing begins in third grade)
5. Focus more resources on k-2nd grade students.
In attendance at the event were many community leaders including:
Aldermen Dorothy Kirner, Jeffrey Boyd, and Craig Schmid
State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford
Many former SLPS board members
The Sup't of the Normanday School District
The CEO of Energizer (Chairman of the Education Committee of Civic Progress)
A very positive video was shown at the start of the day, with the theme, "One Community, One School, One Child At a Time".
For more info on how you can become involved, please click here.