(Posted May 3, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Madison-Plains Local Schools is setting goals and strategies for improvements in everything from instruction to discipline as part of the state-required One Needs Assessment that all Ohio school districts must complete.
Through the One Needs Assessment, districts set priorities across grade levels, buildings, and the district as a whole. Based on those, they develop a three-year improvement plan. Karen Grigsby, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment at Madison-Plains, shared highlights of the district’s plan at the April 19 school board meeting.
“We have sent the plan to the state. We’re awaiting any changes and updates they suggest, then we will provide the entire plan to the board and the public,” Grigsby said.
As it stands, the plan outlines four primary goals for the district to achieve by June 2025:
1. Increase the state report card performance index score by 6 percent. Results from this year’s report card will serve as the baseline.
2. Decrease the number of interventions for discipline and attendance by 10 percent. Grigsby noted that attendance has been “quite poor” since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago.
“It’s not just due to quarantine but apathy about coming to school,” Grigsby said. “We’ve also seen a small increase in discipline matters over the last school year.”
She attributes the changes in part to the disruption in routine the pandemic caused.
3. Increase the state report card early literacy component by 6 percent.
“We had been doing well, but the pandemic caused it to taper off because of how much early learning kids were missing,” Grigsby said.
4. Close the math performance gap with all students, especially at the high school.
Strategies Madison-Plains plans to implement over the next three years focus on everything from mental health of students and staff to technology upgrades:
• Further define and expand systems of support not only for academics but also behavioral, social and emotional issues and mental health. Grigsby said the need for mental health services has grown for students and teachers.
• Continue to refine curriculum assessment
• Start a multi-year technology plan
• Increase recruitment and mentoring of staff, especially math and science positions at the high school which tend to be difficult to fill. Grigsby also noted the science department is overtaxed with four science teachers covering grades 7-12.
She said creative solutions for staffing are in order as fewer people are going into the teaching profession. In the early 1970s, colleges and universities were producing 200,000 teaching candidates per year. In 2018-19, that number was 90,000.
Grigsby said Madison-Plains is at a disadvantage for attracting teachers. The rural location comes with a lack of housing and long commutes.
“It’s been very difficult for our school district,” she said.
• Train teachers to recognize dyslexic tendencies in elementary students and to intervene. The state is requiring this training for teachers and screening of students starting next school year.
“This all takes capital resources to solve these problems,” Grigsby said in summary.
Outside funding is available to address some of the needs, but that funding goes away in a couple of years, she said.
“We’re going to need your support,” Grigsby told the board.