The Thomaston-Upson School System is working to close achievement gaps between student subgroups, increase the number of teachers certified to teach gifted students, and improving efforts to communicate with parents. Those were the initiatives from the system’s Continuous Improvement Plan that Dr. Larry Derico provided to the Board of Education at their meeting on Sept. 11.
Dr. Derico, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the school system, stated that the improvement plan was updated this summer at the District Leadership Retreat. He added that some board members and parents also took part in the update of the plan.
The Continuous Improvement Plan is divided into three different goal areas – ensuring high student achievement and success, creating organizational effectiveness, and promoting stakeholder involvement. Dr. Derico shared with the board just a few of the initiatives the system is concentrating on this year.
“Under ensuring high student achievement and success, we’re really trying to make sure we close the achievement gaps between all of our subgroup areas as much as possible,” said Derico.
“Under organizational effectiveness, we’re trying to increase the number of teachers we have that are gifted endorsed, for a couple of reasons. One is, it benefits us. The more gifted students we have, it helps us financially. But it also helps us better prepare our teachers to offer differentiated instruction for our students. So it is definitely a win-win situation there.
“We also want to do a better job of developing a way to utilize a systematic process for collecting, analyzing, and disaggregating data, to make sure our teachers look closely at the data so that they can have informed instruction for our students,” he added.
“Lastly, under promoting stakeholder involvement, all of our schools are working hard to make sure that we communicate better with our parents. To make sure that communication is clear, two-way, and open, to make sure that we get input. We think that having parents involved in our update, that it really helped out our process.”
Dr. Derico stated that they believe the plan improves every year because they are increasing stakeholder participation in the plan, and learn from past mistakes.
Board chairman Terrell Jackson noted that he attended part of the plan update this summer and was very impressed with it.
“With the cohesiveness and everybody working together to accomplish the same goal, I think you have a right to be proud,” said Jackson.
School Superintendent Dr. Maggie Shook added that the plan also provides the school system with measurable objectives.
“This is an ongoing document,” she said, “and it is a document that we refer to often.”