Changes During the Past Yearposted Jun 17, 2013
There are times when public education is portrayed as being a static organization that is virtually impossible to move. The point of view of an “insider” can be significantly different. From my perspective, the only constant we’re assured of is change. This point was illustrated recently in a report given to the Board identifying progress made in specific areas discussed during the “What Counts” activities of last May. A few of the highlights are the topic of this week’s article.
Providing our students with the best possible teaching staff is a constant goal for Terry Jackson, our Assistant Superintendent over Personnel, and our building level administrators. During the past school year, Box Elder School District has been piloting a new evaluation system for both teachers and administrators. The new system is being developed by the Utah State Office of Education and includes observations, parent/student input, and growth in student proficiency when fully implemented. Our staff has spent many hours using the new observation tools and the associated standards and rubrics.
We’ve also implemented an elementary math endorsement program that is designed to help elementary teachers improve their own proficiency in mathematics as well as learning different teaching strategies. The endorsement program includes six college level courses taken during the evening hours. We had approximately thirty of our teachers complete the program during the school year and another twenty-two started the program this spring. Math has been an emphasis with the adoption of new curriculum for students in grades K-8 as well as Secondary Math II during the past school year.
During this last school year, we have made an adjustment in the grade reporting system at the intermediate school level for next year. We will continue to use the numerical system of grading that is in use for grades K-7 but the grade reports that parents receive for their students in grades 6 and 7 will also include a letter grade for each subject. The purpose of the dual system is to provide parents and students with an opportunity to see how they are doing with a format that they are most comfortable with.
The 2012–2013 school year found us implementing a Chinese Dual Immersion program at Foothill Elementary School as well as planning for significant changes in 2013–2014. Dual Immersion will expand to an additional grade level at both Foothill (Chinese) and Lake View (Spanish) while a new program will be introduced at Garland Elementary School (Spanish). There was a great deal of effort focused at a STEM initiative at the secondary level. Two pre-engineering courses will be added to the curriculum starting this fall as well as several courses in the health occupations area. The STEM initiative was the result of local industrialists, businesses, the Division of Workforce Services, and educators working together under the leadership of Karen Cronin, a member of the School Board.
The district’s Gifted and Talented program was expanded during the past year and will again expand next fall. The next school year will also see Box Elder High School students having a greater opportunity to utilize Bridgerland as part of their educational experience.
There were significant changes to our physical facilities during the 2012-2013 school year with new schools being opened in Fielding and Snowville, as well as a new gym being constructed on the campus of Box Elder Middle School. In addition to these projects, the initial stages of a vocational agriculture facility and a physical education field were developed at Box Elder High School and a significant remodel of the natatorium at Bear River High School began.
Improvement in technology is always a major issue in education. In the past three years, the number of wireless digital devices available to our students and staff has grown from 100 to 1,643. During the past legislative session, enough funding was gained to extend wireless connectivity throughout the learning areas of each of our district’s schools. The District has adopted a new fiscal system using updated technology, and most parents can now access bus routes as well as pay fees on line.
To help guide the District during the 2013-2014 school year, there were 12 administrative changes at the building and district level announced earlier this spring.
The items listed above are only a few of the changes either implemented or planned during the 2012-2013 school year. As indicated in the opening paragraph, change is a constant in our district. We’re always searching for ways to improve our services.
For a more detailed list of changes, please go to our website at http://www.besd.net/ and look for “What Counts – Progress Report.”