The “Balanced Scorecard” that Hall County Schools uses to set goals and meet its mandate is a “living, breathing document,” said Superintendent Will Schofield.
That description is often used in reference to the U.S. Constitution, and the comparison is not lost.
“That’s our guiding strategic plan,” Schofield added. It’s “where we go as a district.”
The board of education recently approved several “substantive” changes to the scorecard, including new benchmarks, commitments to better data collecting and analyzation, and goals for high school graduates.
It’s an approach that attempts to account for “competency, character, rigor.”
The scorecard was scrapped for a while but re-emerged three years ago, with the weight the College and Career Ready Performance Index (which ranks achievement by schools and districts) now carries.
According to a board of education staff report from March 4, “The metrics for goals in the revised 2019 Balanced Scorecard draft offer greater specificity as to how the goal is measured.”
Sometimes the revisions are just a matter of massaging language, such as descriptions of the kinds of educators the school district wants to hire and retain as “professionally qualified.”
Other times, the 2019 scorecard removes earlier ambitions, such as a requirement that students develop a digital 10-year educational plan beginning in middle school.
Or, it only requires 90 percent of fifth-graders to master 90 percent (instead of 100 percent) of basic mathematical fluency tests.
New additions, however, include the stipulation that all schools identify a “school wellness champion” and establish a wellness committee that meets four times annually to address student needs.
It also includes more specificity about the number of service projects or hours per year, per grade level that students must complete.
The scorecard also calls for efforts to increase the number of graduates who earn the fine arts diploma seal, and those who earn a career ready seal that highlights employability and leadership skills acquired by students.
And it calls for an increase in the overall graduation rate to 90 percent from 81 percent currently.
“We’ve still aimed high,” Schofield said, while acknowledging the difference between a “stretch goal” and more immediate attainable goals.
What continues to be an important focus K-12 is literacy, Schofield said.
It’s a particular challenge given the 20-25 percent “transient” or transfer rate among the elementary school population.
“What we know and what the world knows is if (students) are not reading by 8 (years of age), life gets to be very difficult,” Schofield said.