2017-18 brings changes to school day and school year
Subjects matter: Middle schools adjust scheduling
Effective with the 2017-18 school year, middle schools will have designated English language arts (ELA), social studies, math and science teachers. Previously, middle school teachers were scheduled to teach both ELA and social studies; or math and science, easing the transition of students from elementary to middle school by having fewer individual teachers and courses.
Next school year, students will have more teachers in middle school. However, each teacher will “specialize” in a content area of his/her expertise.
“We believe this is a ‘win-win’ for students and teachers,” explained Clover Park School District (CPSD) superintendent Debbie LeBeau. “Teachers will teach in their strength content areas and students will benefit from their teachers’ expertise and focus.”
Other benefits to the scheduling change include better retention and recruitment of teachers and more focused professional development.
More time to learn: Elementary schools switch from quarters to trimesters
Also effective with the 2017-18 school year, elementary schools will move from quarterly (45 days) reporting periods to trimester (60 days) reporting periods.
A committee of elementary principals and teachers, along with district staff, studied the recommendation and support its implementation. In addition, parents, principals and teachers were surveyed to determine their level of support. Survey results showed that all parties support the change.
“There are several advantages for both students and instructors in moving to a trimester reporting period,” said Ron Banner, assistant superintendent for elementary schools, citing the following:
- More time for students to learn and demonstrate proficiency;
- More time at the beginning of the school year for students to acclimate to school, classroom and schedules before baseline testing and grading begins;
- Fewer marking periods, to reduce time for necessary testing and to increase instructional time; and
- More flexibility for teachers to pace curriculum and ensure student mastery of skills.
Consistent professional development: District considers adjustment from early release half days to late-start Wednesdays
The district genuinely values professional development for staff to improve their professional practice. Staff need time to plan lessons and assessments based on the state standards to ensure each student’s school experience is the very best possible.
CPSD is considering a weekly one-hour late start Wednesdays to conduct Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and provide professional development opportunities. The late start Wednesday schedule would not decrease instructional hours.
In PLCs, education professionals come together on a regular basis to review and analyze student data, revise their teaching strategies and practices and collaborate to improve student achievement.
The goal of PLCs is the long-term improvement of student learning and achievement for all students. PLCs provide a consistent and ongoing meeting time for teachers to collaborate.
Certificated staff do some of this work now during the nine early release professional development half days that are included in the school year calendar. There are however, 23 schools, and the collaboration time varies. In some cases, teachers meet before or after school.
“We believe we can improve student achievement even more by ensuring all certificated staff have a consistent time to collaborate,” said Brian Laubach, deputy superintendent. Over the past several weeks, a proposal was shared with the school board, teachers’ association, staff and families to change from nine early release half days to 29 one-hour late starts on Wednesdays.
The district would maintain three half days in the fall and three half days in the spring for teacher-parent conferencing, as well as the half day before Thanksgiving and the last day of school.
Surveys have been distributed to obtain feedback on the proposed change from parents, staff and administrators. Survey data will be analyzed to determine if additional refinement of the proposal is needed. Staff has also met with transportation and student nutrition services to determine how late starts Wednesdays can be implemented efficiently in schools.
A decision is anticipated by May 1, 2017, and more information will be available at that time.
Clover Park Memorial Day tradition honors veterans with stunning tribute
Since 2008, Clover Park High School students and staff have created an annual event called the Arlington Project honoring the fallen in America’s wars from the Revolutionary War to today. The display features individually named markers for the nearly 7,000 fallen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These markers are installed by students over a four-day period and create a striking display that truly captures the meaning of Memorial Day.
Community truancy boards find solutions to improve attendance, student achievement
With the passing of the Becca Bill in 1995, Washington law requires school districts to file a truancy petition with Pierce County Juvenile Court if a student has seven unexcused absences in a single month, or 10 in a year. But, is court really the best solution to help students and families overcome the challenges that lead to chronic absence?
Like many districts in Washington, Clover Park School District (CPSD) has developed a more holistic approach to improving attendance outcomes: community truancy boards. A typical community truancy board comprises the student, parents or guardians, school counselors, district administrators and representatives from Pierce County Juvenile Court.
“The board asks, ‘What are the barriers preventing this student from attending school, and how can we work together to remove these barriers?’” CPSD’s director of student services Holly Shaffer explains.
“At the close of a community truancy board meeting, a contract is developed between all parties that details what changes the student, parents and school will make to support better school attendance,” Shaffer continued.
Students are referred to a community truancy board when they reach the “risk zone” of unexcused absences and their school counselor or administrator feels they would benefit from the experience.
Woodbrook Middle School seventh grader Leslie Juarez was referred to a community truancy board by her school counselor Melissa Juvik earlier this year.
The board was a successful impetus for Leslie and her family to find new ways to ensure she made it to school on time, every day.
“I think that the school staff, parents, district staff and community members working together was very powerful. It showed Leslie that she has many people around her that care about her and want her to be successful,” said Juvik.
“Due to the community truancy board process and Leslie meeting her attendance goals, I’ve had a chance to spend more time with her and talk to her about her plans for high school and beyond,” continued Juvik. “She’s seeing the connection between her daily attendance and making those plans for the future a reality. I would say the community truancy board has had a positive impact on everyone involved,” said Juvik.
With the passing of House Bill 4229 in March 2016, state law now requires all Washington school districts to implement community truancy boards by fall 2017.
District first in western Washington to offer substitute teacher trainings through partnership with WEA
This winter, Clover Park School District (CPSD) became the first district in western Washington to offer trainings for substitute teachers through a partnership with the Washington Education Association (WEA). Two separate sessions were held; one in February and one in March. Attendees came with a wide range of experience in the education field; from retired teachers, guest teachers who have been substituting for a year or more, and even those starting their first assignment the next morning.
The sessions included presentations by WEA representatives, opportunities for networking and sharing tips with other guest teachers, and an overview of available resources. Participants were given a “Super Sub Kit” with a thumb drive containing more than 300 curriculum materials such as PowerPoints, TED talks and documentaries on a range of subjects for grades K–8.
Also newly implemented was a “Training the Trainers” workshop that prepared district employees to facilitate future substitute trainings for the district.
“In the ‘Training the Trainers’ workshops, four guest teachers were identified for their experience, knowledge and commitment to quality education, and asked to complete the program,” explained DeeDee Hill, CPSD’s supervisor for human resources. “The trainers will take the additional knowledge and resources learned and apply them to future guest teacher trainings.
“We now have experienced trainers who are equipped to make our district self-sufficient when it comes to facilitating future guest teacher workshops,” said Hill. “This demonstrates our commitment to helping our guest teachers feel confident and succeed in the classroom which, in turn, leads to better learning outcomes for our students,” she continued.
Educator Networking and Employment Event created valuable connections
More than 30 educators interested in job opportunities in the district attended a networking and employment fair held recently by the district’s human resources department. Attendees enjoyed an icebreaker activity, speaking with district administrators and being interviewed, on the spot, for open positions.
“We were very pleased with the level of participation from principals and administrators,” remarked human resources executive director Lori McStay. “We offered three educators letters of intent at the event, and anticipate offering more soon,” she continued
To attract qualified applicants, human resources staff worked with local colleges and universities to spread the word to recent or soon-to-be graduates of their education programs. The event was also advertised through the district’s website and social media platforms.
Are you an educator interested in exploring career options in Clover Park School District? View open positions on the district website under the employment tab.
Thank You, clover Park School District employees!
Clover Park School District celebrated Classified School Employees Week March 13-17. May 1-5 marks Certificated Employees Week. Thank you certificated staff for creating promising futures for our students!
Three Clover Park High School students earn Act Six Scholarships
Clover Park High School (CPHS) seniors Carlos Alvarez, Sina Pritchard and Jasmin Rodriquez have earned full-tuition Act Six scholarships. Act Six is a leadership and scholarship program that seeks to develop urban and community leaders to be agents of transformation on campus and in their home communities.
Alvarez, Pritchard and Rodriquez were among 22 students in the Puget Sound region selected as new Act Six scholars, winning scholarships collectively worth more than $4 million. According to Act Six, the students were selected through a rigorous three month competition among more than 700 applicants.
Our alumni webpage highlights Clover Park School District alumni who graduated from Clover Park, Lakes or Harrison Prep and are contributing positively to their communities. If you would like to be featured, visit the Community Relations Department page on the district website and click “Alumni Information.” There, you will find an easy-to-use questionnaire. Take a moment to look at the alumni profiles and then create your own! If you want to recommend a classmate as a featured alum, please call the community relations office at 253583-5040 and give us their contact information. We’ll follow up with them to create a profile
Featured Alumni: Jillian Russell Hulings
Featured alumna Jillian Russell Hulings is a corporate communications specialist at the Boeing Company. Read more about Jillian on the alumni page on the district website!"