Wayne County School teachers take their instruction seriously. They have spent a considerable amount of time and money earning specific educational degrees to become certified in their profession. Therefore, pedagogy definitely plays into a successful school. Teachers are also backed up by curriculum coaches who have been assigned at each school building to serve as: mentors, suggest resources, collaborate in professional learning communities, and help guide the educational momentum at their buildings. The work behind the scenes helps monitor and tweak the constantly evolving progress and quality of the curriculum and learning activities. In addition, principals bear a heavy burden coordinating the work at their schools so that the instructional goals are met.
Schools work within the confines of budgets too, so the strength of the schools revolves around classroom instruction, not the bells and whistles that are not always affordable. Wayne County School principals are very creative when it comes to providing extras for their students, too. Parent involvement is welcomed and boosters and fundraising activities are helpful to schools.
At the district level, administrators build the annual Comprehensive District Improvement Plan (CDIP) based on data that they analyze on a daily basis. Assessment results reveal strengths and weaknesses. The administrators can focus their attention on where the greatest need for assistance is or perhaps where to enhance a strength and move it to the next level with a new opportunity. They are under constant pressure to improve students’ test scores in the weaker areas, while experiencing the reward of top performers’ success stories and how to take them to yet another level.
“Our goal is to provide every child with the best education possible,” said Wayne County Superintendent Wayne Roberts. “We are interested in providing excellent instruction, valuable resources, and the latest technology to help our students achieve in the 21st century.”
“We are particularly excited about the new Area Technology Center facility being planned because of the new and existing classes that will better prepare our students for jobs. We want our students to graduate and have strong employability skills in professions or trades,” noted Roberts.
With that in mind, a wealth of innovative approaches ranging from career readiness to work-based learning to standards-based instruction are prevalent across the Wayne County Schools campus. The Wayne County Board of Education recently approved the 2017-18 CDIP Plan that serves as an on-going road map for progress. The Needs Assessment completed during Phase II expresses the school or district’s current state. The school report card shows the assessment scores from the previous school year and can be viewed through the Kentucky Department of Education website.
This fall, the CDIP Plan had already started to be tweaked based on the needs identified on the KPREP and locally administered assessments. Students in grades K-10 participate in MAP testing for Reading and Math, guided reading assessments occur in K-3, and reading fluency is assessed through sixth grade.
“The most important tool we use is Standards Based Unit Assessments that teachers give in their classrooms that are on-going. That way we can focus in on how students are doing in the moment,” explained Chief Academic Officer Brian Dishman. “We are checking to see if students have mastered the standards taught in the classroom through evidence of standards based assessment.”
This valuable data is frequently discussed in the Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) where teachers share what their students did well, as well as trading instructional strategies regarding what has worked in one classroom and can help solve barriers in another.
“Professional Learning Communities are the key to all of this work. They get support and gain knowledge from each other,” noted Dishman. The district also brings in help from outside the district where needed. The Collaborative Center for Literacy Design (CCLD) has provided helpful training to teachers from preschool through high school levels.
According to the CDIP plan, continuous improvement is achieved through goals, objectives, strategies and activities, which succinctly plot the school and district’s course to their desired state. Dishman heads this detailed organizational approach to raising the level of learning in Wayne County.
“We have long-term target goals based on the Kentucky Board of Education Goals,” explained Dishman. “There are five required district goals that our educators are aware of: proficiency, gap, graduation rate, growth and transition readiness.”
At the elementary/middle school level, the goals include: proficiency, gap, growth, and transition readiness. The goals for the high school are: proficiency, gap, graduation rate, and transition readiness.
Transition readiness is one of the most important goals. A variety of strategies are used to help each student work on individualized skills, specific to them. For example, college bound students may want to concentrate on ACT prep. Or, students interested in a career sooner, may want to work toward an industry certificate or do work-based learning. Beginning in the 9th grade, student trajectory toward successful transition and College Career Readiness is monitored , in order to plan interventions specific to student needs.
High school students are fortunate to be able to customize their learning experience through various credit acceleration strategies that provide time for college coursework and internship experiences through the “Pathways to Readiness” schedule now offered.
“We hope that they leave us with a foothold in what they are wanting to do next,” said Dishman. “Our biggest success has been helping our high school students to become College/Career Ready.”
In fact, Wayne County High School is tied for first place in the state on this ranking. They share this distinction with the Area Technology Center, who factored into the career readiness criteria.
The plan’s goal is for 80 percent of the students in elementary, middle and high school to score proficient or distinguished in Reading and Math on KPREP testing. The KPREP testing is administered towards the end of each school year.
“We want to make sure every child has the foundational skills they need in Reading because that’s the gateway to all other learning,” said Dishman. “They need to have established a strong foundation by third grade because that is when they begin to transition to reading to learn, instead of learning to read. The curriculum begins to expand to include more opportunities to explore disciplines like science and social studies. They have to read well to excel in those other parts of the curriculum.”
So, grasping the beginning reading skills when children are young is imperative to learning as they progress through school. Wayne County’s preschool maintains the state’s top five-star rating which leads the youngest learners to succeed with specific kindergarten-readiness skills that launch their public education.
Bell Elementary teacher Sara Harris assists students Briar Portman and Lily Owens with magnetic letters to teach phonics
WCMS Principal Melissa Gossage with teachers Lisa Bell and William Allison discussing literacy skills during a training
Wayne County Middle School Teacher Kim Honeycutt discussing teaching strategies with specialist Keith Lyons from the Collaboration Center for Literary Development
Kindergarten teachers Becky Lewis and DeShay Dishman work together on curriculum alignment
WCMS Teacher Angela Stinson helping a student with a Google Sketch Up lesson related to a reading assignment.
WCHS Teacher Tim Withers assists a student with an architectural computer program in Angela Stinson's class