Academy Framing Document Reviewed
The purpose of the Natrona County School District’s Academy Based Learning Standing Committee, as outlined by NCSD Cabinet, is: “To collaboratively study academy-based learning, make recommendations to the Superintendent/Cabinet and formulate related communications. Currently focused on high schools with middle school and elementary schools to follow.”
The District defines academy-based learning as an instruction model that “provides a relevant and captivating education for all NCSD students, ensuring they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to compete successfully in a global economy. Academy learning engages our students, teachers, parents, community, industry, and higher education in authentic (real-life) and innovative learning environments. This provides students opportunities to become independent lifelong learners, digitally literate, inventive thinkers, effective communicators, highly productive, and healthy stewards. Academy learning gives them a seamless preparation from high school graduation into college and a career.”
The May 14 meeting began with association representative comments. NCASE representatives spoke about academy conversations they had while reviewing the District’s draft strategic goals.
Next, the committee broke into smaller groups and reviewed the Framing Document and the Pathway 2025 Synthesis document. They were tasked with coming up with a prioritized ‘next steps’ list as it relates to academies and the Framing Document.
The main points were as follows:
- The middle school design needs to engage teachers to do the work
- Use and understand the Framing Document
- Educate students on options regarding the different academies – develop a process
- Have 9th grade courses align to the academy standards
- Make common schedule public, identify what collaboration times and cross-town collaboration times will look like
- Identify early adopters; remove barriers for them, and develop small learning communities
- Develop the common enrollment guide
- Align middle level to that new guide
- Align course content
- Integrate special education to course sequencing
- Sustained support of Buck strategies
- Develop training and courses for 101, 102, 103, 104, 105; the next steps
- Capitalize on our wins; reward, repeat, communicate
- Transition plan for CAPS opening
- Perform a PDSA on the common schedule
- Process for Pathway additions/subtractions
- There are loud voices against academies – need to communicate better
- Problem has always been around the “why”
- Criticisms: District direction has waivered, misperceptions, isolation of work
- Sequencing of courses is huge
- Fear of schedule; common and master schedules
- Need to continue to train our counselors on the 6-year plan, have them be experts
- What classes are at CAPS? Must identify these
- How to integrate at-risk kids within academies; behavioral issues
- The connection between academies and increased graduation requirements
- Must look at the middle level introduction; classes at middle level?
- What is academy PLC?
- What does Buck 102 look like?
The group then discussed which of the mentioned items should move to the very top of the priority list. The group discussed making professional development/training, collaboration time planning, training of the counselors, and the common schedule all top priorities. Communication and clarification will remain a key part of this as well.
Dr. Mark Mathern and Kelly Hornby will take the following recommendation to the core group and cabinet: When planning district PD menus/topics the Academy-Based Learning Standing Committee recommends a solidified PD sequence and to have an academy framework 101 topic.
A proposal was made to have a presentation at the next meeting to learn about the process for enrolling students into academies and new classes. The academy coaches and counselors will give that presentation. That next meeting won’t occur until September. In closing, Mathern asked the group to think about who should make up this committee next school year.
Members in Attendance
NCASE: Brad Diller, Chad Sharpe, Danna Anderson, Kathy Neely, Scott Winter, Valerie Braughton, Shawna Trujllo
NCEA: Patti Kimble, Erica Peterson
NCAESS: Michelle Blake
C&I Division: Mark Mathern, Kelly Hornby, Nancy Johnson
HR Division: Verba Echols
Counselors: Amanda Annis
Communications: Allen Bruggman
Recorder: Sarah Prosinski