On Nov. 13, Monett High School received the Making Learning Come Alive Award from the Southwest Center for Education Excellence. The honor recognized the One to the World laptop program as the most innovative instructional program for the previous school year, out of all the 42 school districts in the region.
The honor recognized One to the World for "increasing student engagement, raising expectations and making school more relevant to current students." Three years of professional development by teachers laid the groundwork to meet goals set by the 19-member task force.
"It's such a great honor," said Superintendent Brad Hanson. "It's not an easy thing to realize your teaching is going to change. The staff and leadership under Dave Steward deserved congratulations."
The faculty from Central Park Elementary School were also recognized at the meeting for an award they received as an exemplary school for Missouri Professional Learning Communities. The award will formally be presented at the Professional Learning Communities conference in January, 2013 at Tan-Tar-A.
New state standards
Hanson provided board members with a flier on the pending phase 5 of the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP), which is scheduled to be phased in over the coming school year. Significant changes are expected.
In assessing student performance, the district will switch from comparing scores at each grade level to one composite score for the entire district on each of the core subjects: communication arts, math, science and social studies.
Previously the No Child Left Behind Act focused on communication arts and math, treating social studies as a bonus. Hanson felt the addition of science and social studies would provide a better representation of district achievement. Building level reports showing student scores by grade are expected to be available, but only the single score will matter to the state.
Higher performance levels will be expected for a wide range of sub-groups within the student population. In Monett, the review will focus on students qualifying for free and reduced meals, those with limited English proficiency, ethnic groups like Hispanics and special education students.
"With No Child Left Behind, low achievers have been the focus for the last decade," Hanson said. "We've been spending a lot of effort on students scoring below the proficient level, which is not a bad goal. But there's plenty of kids who are proficient and we can't ignore them."
Each month Hanson plans to brief the board on differences expected in new state standards for issues such as graduation rates, attendance and college and career readiness. All the indicators under MSIP 5 will be different.
The addition of more sophisticated technology will also let the district take a more individualized approach to early learning. With children learning to walk and talk at different levels, Hanson said mastering learning concepts may come at different paces as well. Educators have expected children to learn at the same pace once they reach age 5.
"In the future, teachers will grade students more at their competency level and let them progress at their own rate," Hanson said. "We dabble a little with that now. High schools have gone to a more competency-based system. It's different from what students in my generation went through. It's a trend we're going to see in education in the next five to 10 years."
Board members approved a change in student handbooks concerning backpacks. Bringing backpacks to class was eliminated several years ago. With the introduction of laptops for every high school student, computer bags have come into use much like backpacks had been.
A lot of students were more comfortable with backpacks on their shoulder. The use change prompted the board to allow backpacks again.
The audit for the 2011-12 school year was approved. Hanson said The CPA Group presented a clean audit with no concerns.
Hanson introduced a proposed calendar for the 2013-14 school year which offered potential issues over breaks. In 2013, Christmas and New Year's fall on a Wednesday. Consequently, the last day of class would be on a Friday. If teachers used Jan. 2, 2014 for professional developments, the Christmas break would extend for a full two weeks.
Such an extended break would push the end of the school year to the end of May, leaving no room to work in snow days. Hanson sent the schedule to the Community Teachers Association to review. He expected each campus to develop options for the board to consider when the calendar is adopted at the Dec. 20 meeting.
Board members approved filing dates for the April 2, 2013 election. Seats presently held by two-term incumbent Marty Scabarozi and first-term incumbent Doug Childress will be open.