Frontier Superintendent, Dr. Bret Apthorpe, presented summer instructional projects for 2016 at the district’s July 5 board meeting, focusing on meshing standards with a vision for kind, community-driven youth.
Five major initiatives include common Kindergarten through sixth grade literacy assessments, developing graduation standards, evaluating the K-6 reading program, developing student monitoring systems, and putting forth an effort to organize and align grades six through 12 programs to the district’s vision.
“I’m very happy to report to the board about the exciting work taking place this summer. My first year here at Frontier I spent a lot of time interviewing and meeting new teachers, meeting with parents, meeting with kids and collecting data on the schools and collecting a better understanding of what direction the school district would like to move into,” said Apthorpe of the district’s newly adopted strategic vision.
Summer programs will focus on teacher-administrator collaborations, starting with K-6 literacy. Staff and teacher teams will work on finding the right research-based assessment to pilot the following school year.
“Right now, the kids come into the middle school with all these different assessment backgrounds and it’s very difficult for the middle school teams to properly place these kids,” said Apthorpe. “We have four elementary schools that go into one middle school. It’s very critical that all four elementary schools are using the same literacy assessment tools.”
Having a common placement assessment across all elementary schools will make it easier for teachers and administration alike.
Once the pilot assessment is chosen per grade level, grades Kindergarten through third grade will be introduced to it and then fourth through sixth grade in 2018.
Graduation standards are changing based on Frontier’s vision, combined with NYS Learning Standards, taking state suggestions of 30 to 40 and paring them down to five to eight with a Frontier twist.
“They’re well prepared for college, career, but they also have our values, the values of our community,” added Apthorpe.
The district will also be reevaluating its reading program for kids in Kindergarten through sixth grade, as the current program, Lead21, is no longer in print. Recommendations will be given to the board in the spring and a new program is to be adopted in the fall.
“We can spend the summer providing professional development for both teachers and parents, because really this impacts our parents a lot too, for adoption in the fall,” said Apthorpe.
Student monitoring system development will be the focus of the board’s retreat this summer, with MTSS, or Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in mind. The district will explore the best ways to get students where they need to be academically and emotionally to be successful and live a happy life.
Depending on the student getting to that place sometimes involves intervention by teachers, administration and staff. Once an intervention is put in place for child, it’s handled be a specific office within the district, sometimes it’s special education, sometimes it’s the school psychologist, sometimes it’s another option.
Apthorpe looks to break down these walls between offices in order to better explore other options for students if one intervention plan isn’t working.
The Frontier Superintendent hopes the Frontier Vision Committee’s hard work will pay off with research this summer, in anticipation of implementation in the fall and built upon in future school years.
“We’re really talking about where the rubber hits the road…projects and changes that are going to change the dynamic of the teacher and the kid in the classroom, which is really going to help our kids immensely,” said Apthorpe.