| Local administrators, teachers and students have spent the last 16 months changing the way they achieve their goals. Recently, for the first time, the district invited parents into the classrooms to witness how this new strategy is working.
Mountain View Whisman School District Superintendent Maurice Ghysels told parents during the town hall meeting on Tuesday, April 8 that when he arrived at the district three years ago, it was clear that administrators, principals, teachers and students needed aligned goals to improve their scores.
So Ghysels introduced the district to "Continuous Improvement," an organizational methodology that helps the district set measurable and attainable goals.
"Students need a different set of skills to compete in the changing world," Ghysels said. "Students now have a voice in how they are being taught."
The event was held at Landels Elementary School, which is piloting the program. Ghysels said the district still needs to improve low math scores and help English language learners.
"I am not pleased with achievement in math, especially among English language learners and kids of poverty," Ghysels told approximately 20 parents. "Even though life is not perfect, I see a lot of momentum," he said.
The school provided translators for those parents who did not speak English.
Under CI, students are responsible for their own academic success, and administrators, teachers and students all have created their own goals. So far, the district has trained teachers, created math and English language development committees and set benchmarks for itself.
Parents were impressed with CI, but disappointed with the low turnout. Many of the parents who came had already been involved in the new strategy, and discussed how to reach out to other parents.
After a short presentation from Ghysels, parents toured kindergarten, third and fifth grade classes, where they got to see Continuous Improvement in action. Teachers said the new strategy has helped them achieve classroom goals and individual goals for each student.
Every classroom has a mission statement hanging on the wall. In Karen Milos' kindergarten class, it read: "We are here to read, write, do math and make friends."
Each student tracks his or her academic and behavioral improvements by keeping test scores and accomplishments recorded in their own data books.
"It is really powerful how data changes a kid," Landels Principal Phyllis Rodgers told the parents.
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