D29 board reviews curriculum framework

Curriculum was the focus of the Williston District 29 School Board’s September 18 meeting.

Debra McCord, the director of curriculum, instruction and accountability, provided the board with updates on instruction, professional development, and local and state assessments.

She said they are continuing the Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI), which is the district’s curriculum framework that was implemented last year. EDI strategies are being reinforced through classroom observations, small group/one-on-one meetings, meetings with instructional coaches, lesson plan checks, and instructional data walks.

All core classes now have a pacing calendar through Rubicon Atlas, the system the district is using to help teachers pace out the standards they have to teach.

The district has three computer-based programs to provide students with remediation and enrichment. This includes ClassWorks and USA Test Prep while the district is in the process of purchasing Apex Tutorials for high school students.

One type of instructional support is done through monthly data walks to collect data on instructional practices in schools. Data is then analyzed for trends, professional development needs and program effectiveness.

After discussing the professional development calendar, McCord moved on to local assessments, such as MAP testing that was “successfully taken” in classrooms with iPads and Chromebooks, she said. After data discussions were held with principals and instructional coaches, actions plans were developed to help students improve. Some of the strategies for Kelly Edwards Elementary include a reading interventionist, classroom observations with instructional feedback, and daily small group instruction in math and reading. At Williston-Elko Middle School, they have increased math and reading instruction to 90 minutes each per day.

“They are getting more instruction on a daily basis than they have been,” said McCord of the middle school students.

For state assessments, McCord said, they are waiting on reports to be released in October by the State Department of Education. McCord also discussed changes to state assessments, such as which grades will be tested and time periods for administering those tests.

In other news:

• The board accepted the transfer of “Student A” into District 29.

• The board approved two field trip requests, including one for the band on Oct. 7-8 to St. James High School in Garden City and the other for the elementary TAG students to go to Riverbanks Zoo Oct. 6-7.

• Williston-Elko High School student Danielle Edwards was recognized as the school’s Barnwell Rotary Student of the Month. She was selected after Principal Alison Brady asked teachers to identify someone “who really puts others over themselves.” Brady said Edwards is a leader who is involved in the school, including in drama, band (drum major), making morning announcements, and taking several honors classes.

• The August financial numbers were $378,954.07 in revenue and $592,895.84 in expenses. In comparison to the same time last year, revenue is up by 5 percent while expenses have increased 8 percent, said Director of Finance Rose Anderson. She said some of the increase in expenses is due to replacing HVAC units, schools ordering supplies earlier, and invoices for some licenses coming in earlier.

• Dr. Tasha Louis-Nance, the district’s director of student and special services, reported that 136 students had an IEP (individualized education program) as of Sept. 15.