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Board of Education Meeting Recap September 26th, 2019

News from Sheridan School District No. 2

Contact: Mark Stevens mstevens@ssd2.org

303-495-8699 (mobile) • 720-328-5488 (office)

 

News Release

Sept. 26, 2019 

Fort Logan Northgate School Learning Walk Reviewed; School Leaders Praised for School’s Approach to Accountability

 

During a work session this week (Sept. 24), Board of Education members praised the leadership team at Fort Logan Northgate School for their approach to improving student achievement, citing an attitude that shows they “own” the challenge as a collective matter.

Board member Karla Najera and others praised a highly detailed “data room” that tracks individual student progress on an ongoing basis. 

“What a powerful room you all have created,” said Najera, adding that she imagined the data would provoke meaningful conversations about how best to support students. 

Najera said she was moved by principal Bill Blandón’s simple question: “What did we not do?” Najera said she kept that question in mind during the Learning Walk, part of the board’s regular cycle of visits to all district schools. The “we” approach, she added, is key. “You took ownership and you took accountability and you were being honest,” she said. “I saw the ‘we’ in every classroom—it was all about that. That transparency is important.”

Board member Daniel Stange noted the school’s improved “ambiance” for learning. Students, he said, seemed “eager and enthusiastic.” Board president Bernadette Saleh said the students she observed were “all really engaged and doing what they were supposed to be doing.” A third-grade classroom, added Saleh, was “very impressive.”  

Board member Sally Daigle said she liked seeing classrooms in other configurations than students sitting at desks. “I don’t think I saw one classroom that was set up like how we grew up,” said Daigle, referencing straight rows of desks with a teacher in front of the classroom. “They all had different set-ups and that is probably more conducive to the way those kids learn.”  

Superintendent Sandos said the school will continue to work on mathematics instruction in collaboration with the University of Colorado Denver. The university’s work has focused on helping upper elementary school teachers assess students’ math conceptions (adding, multiplication, fractions, etc.) and then tailoring classroom goals and activities to student needs. UCD professor Ron Tzur may attend a board meeting soon, said Superintendent Sandos, to provide an update to the board on the collaboration.

Accreditation Issues

Director of Assessment Maegan Daigler told the board that the district is appealing the preliminary accountability rating of “priority improvement,” announced by the state last month. One key element is the School Performance Rating for SOAR Academy, the district’s alternative high school. SOAR’s School Performance Rating wasn’t available before the preliminary district performance rating was issued.

While the SOAR rating also remained “priority improvement,” said Daigler, it’s possible that positive trends within the SOAR data may improve SOAR’s rating. Daigler also said with additional optional measures added to SOAR’s framework, that the district was able to provide the state with a fuller picture of SOAR Academy’s performance.

Superintendent Sandos said he sees “some early indicators of growth in academic achievement” at SOAR Academy. “I’m optimistic about where we’re at and I’m encouraged about those pieces and where we’re heading,” he said.

On a related issue, but not speaking directly about SOAR Academy's rating, Superintendent Sandos told the board that there is renewed discussion to change the state’s accountability system. Superintendent Sandos attended a meeting of state school leadership last week. In particular, he said, there is “incongruence” when you have a district rated as “performance” but that is also home to large numbers of students who are performing far below grade level.

Philadelphia Trip

Superintendent Sandos, Chief Operations Officer Cyndi Wright, and board members Bernadette Saleh and Juanita Camacho are departing Thursday (Sept. 26) to visit a school in Philadelphia that offers Career & Technical Education in collaboration with Johnson Controls.

Superintendent Sandos and the board have expressed interesting in improving relationships with trade organizations as well as improving the preparation of students who are thinking of pursuing careers in the trades.

Other Notes

The board also discussed its participation in Sheridan Celebrates this weekend (Saturday, Sept. 28), attendance at the Colorado Association School Boards conference in early December, and the importance of the October student count process. 

About Sheridan School District 2

Located southwest of Denver, Sheridan School District 2 seeks high-level post-secondary options for all students through continuous improvement of quality instruction. More:

www.ssd2.org

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Sheridan School District NO.2
4150 South Hazel Court
Englewood, Colorado 80110
email: info@ssd2.org
phone: (720) 833-6991
fax: (720) 833-6650