Arlington board goes back to school

Arlington School Board member Ursula Ghirardo, left, checks out the work of student Jacob Wharen on May 20. - Courtesy Photo
Arlington School Board member Ursula Ghirardo, left, checks out the work of student Jacob Wharen on May 20.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

ARLINGTON — Arlington School Board members went “back to school” last month to see firsthand how their schools run.

The Board members attended classes at Post Middle School and at the Eagle Creek and Pioneer elementary schools on May 20, during which they also took a lunch break at the Arlington High School’s student car show.

According to Arlington Schools spokesperson Andrea Conley, the purpose of these classroom visits was to offer the Board members a more direct insight into how Arlington schools are differentiating their instruction for individual students, what those schools’ intervention programs look like and how those interventions are working for both teachers and students.

Included in those school visits were scheduled times for Board members to meet with teachers and their principals to discuss their progress, challenges and celebrations.

“It was part of the school improvement cycle we developed,” Conley said. “It was a great time with open and honest communication. It was fun to see individual Board members interacting with students.”

As Arlington schools continue to use their district’s strategic plan as a guide, individual school teams have created their own school improvement plans, as working documents with specific student achievement goals for each year. Conley noted that keeping the Board involved in these improvement goals has been a focus of that process.

“Back in March, representatives of three different schools met with Board members to discuss the current status of their plans, as well as their successes and challenges,” Conley said. “The culmination of this SIP cycle was the Board’s visits to these classrooms, to see teachers and students working through their plans.”

The SIP cycle for each school year begins by using state assessment information for an annual data review in September, by the Teaching and Learning Department. Once the Arlington schools’ SIP teams complete their plans, the schools present these plans at an October Board meeting. The Board uses a data dashboard to monitor the progress made in the strategic and district improvement plans, as well as the individual school and department plans.

“With the ultimate district goal of increasing student achievement, the SIP cycle process has helped keep the Board informed of the exciting successes students are experiencing,” Conley said. “Board members enjoyed their opportunity to read to individual students, help them with their assignments and see how programs like ‘The Daily Five’ help teachers manage the different needs of students in the classroom.”


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