Reflection on the 2020 State of the Schools Address
On January 23, 2020, the district convened approximately 150 people for the second annual State of the Schools address. The event was open to the public and participants included students (grades 5-12), parents, support staff, teachers, administrators, school board members, city leaders, and state representatives. The purpose of the event was to share the district’s “Profile of a Graduate” and to gather feedback regarding our progress toward our three strategic goals.
The event began with student presentations from Madison Koppleman (Sheyenne High School) and Elizabeth Krogen (West Fargo High School). These students shared their portfolios outlining their individual paths towards achieving the dispositions outlined in the “Profile of a Graduate.” Dispositions include collaboration, compassion, creativity, resiliency, communication, critical thinking, reflection, and responsibility. The presentations gave the audience a better understanding of how the dispositions are interwoven into the guaranteed and viable curriculum in unique ways across the district. The student presenters were followed by a panel of six students from both high schools. They were asked a series of questions about their experiences in the district relative to coursework, internships, challenges, and successes.
After hearing from our students, the participants were divided into groups of 6-8 to have a conversation about our district’s goals and programs. Each group included a facilitator from the school district as well as a school board member. The conversation was captured by a notetaker, and a survey was sent to each participant following the event. Participants were asked the following questions: What programs and/or activities should the district continue, and what should the district let go? While a fairly straightforward question, a great deal of information was gleaned from the evening! The information was compiled and grouped into topics that were discussed. Below are topics that had the highest percentage of “continue” responses.
- Advanced placement and dual credit courses
- Small class sizes
- Interdisciplinary teaming at the middle school
- Access to technology for all students; 1:1 devices for secondary students
- Academic rigor in all core content
- Access to extra-curricular activities
- Enrichment opportunities
- Daily recess for elementary students
- Service-learning opportunities
- Exploratory offerings at the middle school
- A variety of electives at the high school
- Grades aligned to standards
- Student choice for book selections
When asked what the district should discontinue, we collected fewer responses, but the bulleted list below includes items that 35-65% of the participants felt we should discontinue.
- The 7-period day
- The requirement to attend school 175 days
- A calendar that is primarily between Labor Day and Memorial Day
Information is only beneficial if something is done with it. Both the School Board and district administration have reviewed the data and discussed the perceptions, expectations, and next steps for WFPS. We have analyzed the data to check for alignment with our current professional development plans. The results are clear that the District’s plans for the future are in alignment with our stakeholder’s expectations relative to what to continue. When considering the items on the discontinue list, we will have further discussion with the Board, the calendar committee, and our high school leadership teams.
Thank you to those that volunteered their valuable family time to give us constructive feedback during State of the Schools, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also give accolades to the many parents and community members that give up time throughout the year to engage with us whenever we need. Through the support of our community and our state, WFPS continues to be the district of choice!