For the past five years the Urbandale Community School District has been working on the process of transformation to ultimately better meet the needs of our students. During a three-year introductory period, we provided training and other learning opportunities for staff and encouraged them to work in new ways in order to invigorate learning and make it more meaningful for students. Two years ago, all teachers were trained in new ways to work in the classroom as it was the district’s expectation that the new processes and procedures be implemented across the district. Here is what we expect to see happening in every classroom district-wide:
- Clarify and communicate learning requirements to students. These communicate what students need to know and be able to do as a result of being in class. We ask teachers to post this information in their classroom and ensure they discuss it with students.
- Publish and post a class learning goal. It is our expectation that the goals are written based on the performance of all students. In other words, the goals should include, “100% of students will…”
- Chart, post, and analyze class learning results. Students should be involved in the analysis of the data in order to determine how to best proceed to improve results.
- With student input, create and post a class mission statement that describes how teachers and students will partner to produce high-quality learning.
- PLAN for frequent “cycles of learning” by setting short-term learning targets.
- Determine what the teachers and students need to DO to ensure that everyone learns the target. This calls for implementing “high-yield” strategies.
- STUDY the results (teacher and students) of strategies used for the learning cycle.
- Create an ACTion plan and make adjustments/improvements for the next cycle of learning.
During the two years in which these practices have been implemented across the entire district, we have seen increased results in student learning:
- The highest percentage of students in the “advanced” level in reading and math over the past 17 years.
- The lowest percentage of students in the “non-proficient” level in math over the past 17 years.
- The lowest percentage of students in the “non-proficient” level in science over the past 17 years.
This data over the past two years leads us to believe that our transformational work is having a positive impact on student learning across the entire district. An examination of Iowa Test results indicate that classrooms and grade levels that are implementing our “8-step process” at the deepest levels are showing the most significant student learning improvements.
We are pleased to see improved learning results for our students. Our task is to find ways to continually improve education and to provide students a voice in that process. After all, it is their learning!
Finally, I invite you to read about the recent award the district received on April 2, 2015. This recognition says a great deal about our district, our efforts, and results as an outcome of our transformation efforts. We have a great deal of which to be proud!
Thank you to our students, teachers, administrators, parents, and board members for all of your continued work to “bring learning to life” in Urbandale!