Los Lunas β€”

The Los Lunas School Board is taking the district to the next level by approving what they describe as a very ambitious Educational Plan For Student Success (EPSS).

The EPSS 2002-2004 will challenge all educators to take on new roles and expand their skills.

“It’s idealistic,” said Judy Romero, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, “but we believe that it is the right thing to do in order to get results.”

The new EPSS sets high expectations in order to get results. “I’m thrilled the board gave us the opportunity to think outside the box and really look at innovative programs and thinking to take the district onto the next level. We don’t want to remain stagnant. That’s what this district is all about.”

What makes EPSS different this year is that older strategies that have been implemented over the last six years are now in “maintenance” mode in order for the district to move forward to the next level of school reform, officials said.

“EPSS will embrace student learning and high quality teaching in the hope to move all of our 16 schools to ‘exemplary’ status,” Romero said.

That means teachers will be directly involved in measuring the learning of students in their classrooms. With the help of evidence from standardized tests, homework and day-to-day, in-class assignments, teachers can determine whether students are learning.

“Whether you are a teacher or a parent, you are concerned about quality instruction. You must be concerned about quality assessment. They go hand in hand,” she said.

Staff development will play an integral part in the EPSS process. Educators will be exposed to advanced, high-quality training in order to identify and measure student results and guide their instruction.

“We really want to make sure our teachers are of high quality in the classroom. We’re looking at getting staff developers in residence. My goal is to have one at every school, training teachers and taking instructional movement into high-order thinking for kids,” Romero said.

The district is looking at all educators as data masters. Data will drive their decisions in the classroom.

“As President George W. Bush has said, no child will be left behind,” Romero said. “I want teachers to be able to make a decision about student learning by using data on a day-to-day basis. For example, a math teacher will be able to know how they should change their teaching practice based on specific data.”

Bringing renowned educators from throughout the world to Los Lunas is a another goal of the Los Lunas Schools. In April, Dr. Patricia Bernhardt will come to Los Lunas to talk about planning and implementing continuous school improvement. Other guests will include Dr. Patricia Wolfe, on translating brain research into classroom practice, and Eric Jenson, on teaching with the brain in mind.

School Board Member Bob Whorton has expressed concern about the purpose of block scheduling, now in its third year in the district. While many students are moving through high school and already taking college level courses, Whorton questioned how it’s possible to get students, staff and the community to agree on how academic performance can improve.

“I’d like to see what we’re doing to evaluate block scheduling to find out if we’re making progress. I’m not sure we’re seeing it. I know too many kids who have no clue as to what they want to do at 18. I think we should know what electives students are taking.

“It’s about filling their schedules with good stuff, starting in sixth grade, to prep them to make a decision about their careers. I think it will be more critical as we move into more choices at the Career Academy.”

The district will concentrate on career exploration early on with what Romero terms an “exciting approach,” called Career Pathways, from sixth grade through 12th.

“We want to expose students to different types of careers and the choices they can make. At that level, they will start a folder with a check list of classes to help them get ready for college,” Romero said.

Students will have the opportunity to talk with a guidance counselor, explore career fairs and surf the net, using the latest computer software, for a guided career plan.

“By the time they are in eighth grade, students can start discussing more specifics like four-year plans and the Career Action Planning folder.”

The district is also going to start developing academies at the high school for fine arts, math and science. Through the new EPSS plan, students can choose from different career pathways in the academy.

“The high school is developing right now a freshman academy. We hope to expand and develop the concept in the near future.”

According to School Board President John Kern, the district continues to give students the tools they need to succeed.

“Graduation offers students the ability to open the door to their future. We want to make sure we have everything geared out so our kids can do anything, whether it’s entering the work force or going to college. It’s breathtaking, the changes I’ve seen in this district over the last three years. Our students can achieve anything they want to.”

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Jennifer Harmon