In the Palo Alto Board of Education's first meeting of the 2014-15 school year tonight, members will continue to discuss a host of ambitious goals proposed by new Superintendent Max McGee at the board's annual retreat on Aug. 13.
The board will expand on concrete "measures and deliverables" for each of the goals put forth by McGee. The goals have been slightly revised and reordered, as well as cut down from six to five, after the board provided both small- and big-picture feedback at the retreat. All of the goals are linked to specific areas of the district's Strategic Plan, a connection that McGee repeatedly stressed as important at the mid-August retreat. (Read the board's five goals at the bottom of this story.)
The district's first goal is student-centric, as the board urged. The measures and deliverables necessary in order to "prepare students for a future that necessitates global collaboration and competition" and cultivate a culture that supports and advances that goal, include a revised district website; establishment of baseline data from staff, parent and student surveys; "face to face" recognition at board meetings of students who compete and and excel in a range of competitions; a pilot system for compiling, analyzing and reporting achievement data; and an action plan to ensure "'equity of preparation, access and support' for historically underserved students," among others.
This goal is aligned with the "academic excellence and learning" section of the Strategic Plan, which includes sub-goals ranging from increased small group instruction to the integration of the new Common Core State Standards.
The board dropped one of McGee's proposed goals, which focused on professional development, and folded it into another goal with an assurance that staff are "continually engaged" in professional learning that is aligned with specific school goals as well as the strategic plan.
The goal that now reads the most differently is one that relates to the board's own behavior. At the retreat, McGee introduced this goal -- "Generate a mindset of collective community learning that works collaboratively and actively to identify, prevent and solve strategic problems that are detrimental to teaching and learning" as a commitment to proactive problem finding, rather than reactive problem solving. He cited the series of Office of Civil Rights investigation brought against the district in recent years to illustrate the importance of "communicating and anticipating" what problems or consequences might arise from certain decisions.
"Let me be blunt: There are issues around communication, right? What can we do to identify and prevent these ahead of time?" he told the board Aug. 13. "This speaks to not being in such a reactive mode. Let's think about these problems ahead of time."
The board agreed, and the goal has since been revised to read, "Anticipate, respond, and promptly resolve potentially distracting and disruptive issues in order to maintain focus on the district's vision."
At Tuesday's meeting, the board also plans to discuss new teacher appointments; to authorize $5,964 in additional design services for construction at Duveneck Elementary School; and to give staff the green light to solicit bids for the replacement of a traffic signal at the entrance to Gunn High School.
View the board's agenda here.
The Board of Education's revised goals for the 2014-15 year:
1. To prepare students for a future that necessitates global collaboration and competition, cultivates support for a district-wide culture that expects, advances, inspires, and promotes academic excellence, hard work, active engagement, and perseverance for every student. (Aligns with Strategic Plan Goal Area A.)
2. Create conditions that assure consistent high quality and fairness in curriculum, instruction, and assessment while affording individual schools autonomy to design, develop, implement, and evaluate innovative practices and programs aligned with the District's Strategic Plan. (Aligns with Strategic Plan Goal Area E, initiatives E2 and E3.)
3. To provide all students the highest quality learning environment in every district school, ensure that all certificated and classified staff are continuously engaged in Professional Learning that is aligned with specific, strategic school improvement goals that are tied directly to the District Strategic Plan. (Aligns with Strategic Plan Goal Area C)
4. Develop clear accountabilities for ensuring implementation of key strategic plan initiatives. (Aligns with "focused goals" from each of the five Strategic Plan goal areas.)
5. Anticipate, respond and promptly resolve potentially distracting and disruptive issues in order to maintain focus on the District's vision of "developing our students' knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, deepening their knowledge, and nurturing their curiosity, creativity, and resilience empowering every child to reach his or her fullest intellectual, social, and creative potential." (Aligns with Strategic Plan Goal Area E.)