Quest for Student Success

Posted by Site Master on 11/12/2019

"Quest for Student Success"

Dr. Sue and golden hedgehogs

This month, I am excited to update you regarding our district Student Success Act (SSA) work as well as share that the first Golden Hedgehog has been awarded for the year.

First, the Golden Hedgehog award.  This award, inspired by author Jim Collins’ Good to Great Hedgehog Concept, recognizes district staff who are applying intentional focus and efforts that result in successful academic achievement for our students. Congratulations to Deer Creek Elementary 4th grade teachers Stephanie Burke, Rhianan Ewer, Alison Mangles and Lauren Merkel! They closed the English Language Arts SBAC gap for Special Ed students, emerging bilingual students and students navigating poverty by 7% while simultaneously raising achievement for all students.  At the November 4th board meeting, I asked them to share their “special sauce” recipe for closing the gap and raising student achievement overall.  Here is what they shared:

  • While each teacher engaged her craft individualistically, instruction across the four classrooms were standards-based, explicit and consistent.
  • They consistently disaggregated student data as a team throughout the year, adjusting their instruction based on formative assessment data.
  • They committed to the creed, “My student is your student are our students”.
  • They believe their students have the agency to succeed and adjust their instruction to scaffold their students to success.
  • They are intellectually curious about how to improve their instructional skills and specifically identified the value of the literacy coach as a thought partner in their work.

What I found interesting about their story is that they are a direct reflection of what we find in best practice research, e.g. Zaretta Hammond, Geneva Gay, Muhammad Khalifa, Robert Marzano, Michael Fullan to name a few. And, this highly effective team is just the tip of the Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) iceberg.  In “Sit with Dr. Sue” coffees at Bridgeport, Metzger and Tualatin Elementary, staff shared how they are collaborating, analyzing assessment data in teams, accessing instructional coaches as thought partners and most importantly, learning from each other.  This work is not only happening at the elementary level. 

At the middle level, a work group consisting of teachers from all three middle schools, staff, board, and community members are engaged in “reimagining middle school” work using the My Ways Student Success Framework  Again, the power of this vision and learning from each other will be the basis for future shifts in practice at the middle level.

At the high school level, teachers and staff are examining the impact on student achievement in core classrooms where advanced, rigorous curriculum and instruction are embedded for all students. It is clear I am going to need to get a lot more golden hedgehogs!

The instructional core – the interaction between the teacher, student, and curriculum – is the reason TTSD exists.  The examples I have shared about the collective, collaborative professional learning and work across K-12 classrooms demonstrates the power of systems of supports that result in a healthy instructional core where all students thrive. It serves as a guide for the current district and community SSA work. Now, with the power of inclusive stakeholder input that will guide us to create a plan that will close the achievement gap and raise student achievement for all.  

 As a district, we will continue to seek feedback from wide-ranging, diverse voices representing all corners of our community as called out in House Bill 3427, page 8. House Bill 3427

Since the inaugural October 1st community meeting, we have convened a work group that continues to grow engaging staff, parents, students, grandparents, and community members. District Building Equity Coordinators (BECs) and School Liaisons are convening meetings with our under-represented students and parents at the school level, gathering their input.  The Tigard-Tualatin Education Association has developed an SSA survey to collect input from their members, the results of which will also inform the final plan, and TTSD will continue to solicit feedback from the broader community through January 2020.

This is an exciting time for our district and state.  And, as this is the month where we reflect on and celebrate our good fortune, I close with words of gratitude for you, for your commitment and for the work you do every day to make our mission of changing the lives of every student for the better a reality.