JEFFERSON — Despite having a system that made Adequate Yearly Progress last school year and an 86.7 percent graduation rate, Jefferson City Schools System officials won’t be satisfied until their good academic progress is at its absolute best.
To achieve that goal, administrators are in the process of working with educators to develop a new “learning walk instrument.”
“We want to be able to use it as a coaching tool. It gives us the opportunity to focus on the standards-based curriculum. It’s our intention to use this as a way to assess where we are as a system,” said Donna McMullan, system associate superintendent.
The learning walk instrument requires administrators to visit individual classrooms and analyze “level of thinking, student engagement, instructional role of teacher, communication of learning goals and instructional mode of the lesson being taught.”
Administrators will also gauge the depth of knowledge of students in the classroom. The depth of knowledge is measured on a scale of 1 to 4.
“We want to be able to provide teachers with feedback about what they are doing well and what they aren’t doing as well. This isn’t intended to be a weapon — we aren’t scoring teachers — it’s a support tool,” said April Howard, school system director of middle and secondary instruction.
“Whereas the depth of knowledge may be a 1 or 2 now, we want to see everyone on level 3 or 4.”
According to the walking instrument’s depth of knowledge chart, level 1 is recall, level 2 is skill/concept, level 3 is strategic thinking and level 4 is extended thinking.
The walking instrument will also allow administrators to spend more time in the classroom and be more attuned with what is going on in the schools, McMullan said.
System administrators have been working to refine the evaluation tool since August and hope to have it finished by December and officially implemented during the second semester of the school year.
Initially, administrators will use the walking tool to evaluate classroom performance. Eventually the tool will become a peer evaluation tool for teachers.
“This has been a collective effort with administrators, principals and assistant principals. We asked the principals and assistant principals to share the (learning walk instrument) with teachers and give us their feedback,” said McMullan. “This tool will allow us to increase both rigor and relevance in the classroom.”