Ar­eas for im­prove­ment tar­geted

Record Observer - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@ches­pub.com

CENTREVILLE — In­terim Su­per­in­ten­dent for Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools, Gre­gory Pilewski launched the first “QACPS In­no­va­tion Cen­ter” in Au­gust in re­sponse to the Cur­ricu­lum Man­age­ment au­dit find­ings.

The In­no­va­tion Cen­ter — five teams com­prised of QACPS prin­ci­pals, as­sis­tant prin­ci­pals, aca­demic deans and teacher spe­cial­ists — is a way to ad­dress the ar­eas need­ing im­prove­ment brought to light by the cur­ricu­lum au­dit. A team based ap­proach, bro­ken down into five spe­cific ar­eas is a man­age­able way to ef­fi­ciently ad­dress these con­cerns more ex­pe­di­ently while al­low­ing and en­cour­ag­ing fac­ulty to be in­volved in the process, ex­plained Pilewski.

Each team fo­cuses on a spe­cific area, Or­ga­ni­za­tional Ef­fec­tive­ness; Early Learn­ing and School Readi­ness; Cur­ricu­lum, In­struc­tional Tools, and As­sess­ment; Lead­er­ship and Build­ing Ca­pac­ity; and Mon­i­tor­ing Progress and Per­for­mance, with the over­all lens for the work of eq­uity, equal­ity, di­ver­sity and cul­ture.

“This [In­no­va­tion Cen­ter] is re­ally an out­growth of lis­ten­ing to the needs of the teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors and par­ents,” said Pilewski.

Pilewski and Janet Pauls, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent for in­struc­tional ser­vices and school im­prove­ment, head the five teams that com­prise the In­no­va­tion Cen­ter. “These are five high-per­form­ing teams, play­ing on the strengths of our em­ploy­ees,” said Pilewski, “all five work­ing in har­mony to­gether.” The five teams have the op­por­tu­nity to work to­gether in per­son and via the internet and will re­port to the ex­ec­u­tive team monthly.

The au­dit, con­ducted by the In­ter­na­tional Cur­ricu­lum Man­age­ment Au­dit Cen­ter Phi Delta Kappa, was a third-party in­de­pen­dent or­ga­ni­za­tional anal­y­sis of the cur­ricu­lum and in­struc­tion func­tions look­ing at ways to im­prove achieve­ment for all students, said Pilewski.

The au­dit found some ar­eas that needed im­prove­ment, cit­ing “board poli­cies are in­ad­e­quate to pro­vide lo­cal cur­ricu­lum man­age­ment di­rec­tion ... some crit­i­cal po­si­tions for qual­ity con­trol were ab­sent.”

The au­dit also con­cluded there was a lack of com­pre­hen­sive cur­ricu­lum man­age­ment plan in place to guide the de­sign, de­liv­ery, mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion of the cur­ricu­lum; fur­ther in­di­cat­ing that a broader scope of the writ­ten cur­ricu­lum could be help­ful in pro­vid­ing bet­ter di­rec­tion for teach­ing staff. And sug­gested planned and im­ple­mented pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for teach­ers would in­crease stu­dent suc­cess.

In all, eight rec­om­men­da­tions were made by the cur­ricu­lum au­dit team to strengthen and de­velop staff job de­scrip­tions and ex­pec­ta­tions and en­sure a more con­sis­tent cur­ricu­lum de­liv­ery with an em­pha­sis on clar­ity and co­he­sive writ­ten plans. These rec­om­men­da­tions are be­ing eval­u­ated and ad­dressed in part through the In­no­va­tion Cen­ter.

Pilewski said, “Our class­room teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors, and su­per­vi­sors have ex­pe­ri­enced a tremen­dous amount of ed­u­ca­tional re­form ini­tia­tives over the past sev­eral years. Of­ten, ed­u­ca­tional ini­tia­tives were im­ple­mented all at once.

Our teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors, and su­per­vi­sors have done a fan­tas­tic job mak­ing these shifts as we tran­si­tioned to new stan­dards and as­sess­ments and an­a­lyzed our re­sults, we wanted to take a closer look at our core func­tions of teach­ing and learn­ing. We re­flected and asked our­selves: what are we do­ing well that we can build on and where can we im­prove to close gaps in stu­dent learn­ing?”

The In­no­va­tion Cen­ter is a tool to al­low all ad­min­is­tra­tors to be a part of the process — ad­dress­ing is­sues iden­ti­fied by the cur­ricu­lum au­dit — and look­ing ahead to what fu­ture needs might be, said Pilewski.

“The struc­ture [of the In­no­va­tion Cen­ter] al­lows for greater align­ment of our or­ga­ni­za­tional ef­forts and re­source al­lo­ca­tions with our dis­trict strate­gic goals. We an­tic­i­pate im­proved clar­ity, trans­parency and ef­fi­ciency,” he said.

The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion and Su­per­in­ten­dent have set forth goals that we hope to achieve with the sup­port of the teams in the In­no­va­tion Cen­ter and we are work­ing to de­velop ac­tion plans to reach those goals. As the plans are im­ple­mented the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the board will be to en­sure fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity, mon­i­tor time­lines and set or re­vise poli­cies as nec­es­sar y, ex­plained Pilewski.

One ex­am­ple of what the In­no­va­tion Cen­ter is work­ing on presently, is tech­nol­ogy as an in­struc­tional tool, said Pilewski.

Chrome­books are now be­ing used by grades 3-12, and we face a host of chal­lenges, he said. How the de­vice is used, im­ple­mented in the class­room, how we can uti­lize it to our best ad­van­tage, and how we in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy in the over­all in­struc­tion process. We also have to look at what the next few years will bring, what is the re­fresh and look­ing ahead to bud­get as­sess­ments as we may be ex­pect­ing to roll­out new de­vices, he sum­ma­rized.

One of the other teams is mon­i­tor­ing the ele­men­tary grad­ing sys­tem that first came out last school year. Re­view­ing and mon­i­tor­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new grad­ing sys­tem and mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions where nec­es­sar y, said Pilewski.

The In­no­va­tion Cen­ter is also fo­cus­ing on clos­ing the achieve­ment gap by grade 2, said Pilewski, get­ting students ready to do kin­der­garten work, with pre-k pro­grams and out­side part­ner­ships — an area that had pre­vi­ously been found lack­ing.

In short, Pilewski hopes the In­no­va­tion Cen­ter will gen­er­ate high pay­off so­lu­tions to sys­tem chal­lenges and tar­get and sup­port the in­struc­tional core ... ac­cel­er­at­ing the ex­plo­ration of new ideas to sup­port all students.

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