State Releases District Report Card

The state has released its annual evaluation of school district performance and it shows Fort Zumwalt continues to achieve at some of the highest levels in the state. More importantly, it shows that growth in our students from one year to the next exceeds state expectations. Data is available on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website and shows that FZSD is growing students in all areas faster than expected and that those students are achieving at high levels. What’s the difference between growth and achievement?

 

“When you think of growth we are talking about what happened in one year,” Mike Neill, Executive Director of Data and Assessment told the Board of Education at its regular October meeting. “When we look at achievement, we are talking cumulative. For instance,” he continued, “when we talk about 8th grade achievement, that is a sign of everything that has happened with that student since Kindergarten.”

 

Neill highlighted several areas of significant growth, but the overall theme of the report is this: Fort Zumwalt student growth and achievement has been on a consistent, steady upward track. 

 

Superintendent Dr. Bernie DuBray, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Jen Waters and Neill shared a number of rungs on this ladder to student success:

 

Full-time Curriculum Coordinators. Full-time curriculum coordinators work side by side with writing teams. They are crucial to the professional development provided teachers once curriculum is adopted. “Our curriculums are written by our staff,” DuBray told the Board. “Some of the adoptions, like My Sci or Math in Focus,  have been expensive, but they are really paying off.”

 

Instructional Coaches. Since 2016 the district has added 17 instructional coaches at elementary schools. They work with teachers on data analysis and strategies to help all students reach their potential.

 

High quality professional development. “It’s really the result of going and training our teachers,” Waters said. “Our teacher collaboration allows them to look at student data, look at student work and see what kids need in terms of extra instruction.” She went on to explain the significance of coordinators and coaches following up after PD days. “You can adopt all you want, but you have to have PD to help them learn how to teach it,” Waters told the Board. “You can bring everybody in and do two hours of  PD. That’s important. But you have to follow up in buildings and in classrooms. The instructional coaches have been a huge part of this process.”

 

Utilizing data. Neill closed by adding that another big difference in the past five years has been how our teachers learn where each student is on the journey. Data gathering tools have changed the work, he says. “The difference is what we know about kids. What we know about buildings. What we know about teachers,” he said. “We were in our infancy six years ago.” Now our teachers are embracing the data, employing new strategies, all in an effort to help students grow. 

 

Learn more about how Fort Zumwalt is growing students in the video above.