Ferndale School District Improvement Plan for 2017-2018

Our District Improvement Plan consists of six global, overarching goals. Its purpose is to provide guidance to the improvement plans and efforts in each of our schools and programs. The order in which the six goals are arranged is not intended to indicate priority. Rather, the first three goals reflect our ABCs of school improvement (Attendance, Behavior, and Coursework/Academic Achievement); the fourth goal (Reading) is a critical foundation for the third goal (Academic Achievement); and the fifth and sixth goals (Early Learning and Graduation) represent the alpha and omega of our work, the beginning and the ultimate result.

Goal One: Attendance

1a  At every grade level in every school, Average Daily Attendance will be 95% or higher every month of the 2017-2018 school year.

1b  Across the district, the percentage of Chronically Absent students (defined by the state as missing 10% or more of class time) will be 15% or less during the 2017-2018 school year.

Attendance matters! We know students who miss more school than their peers, no matter what the reason, generally perform at lower levels on assessments and other school measures, a result that holds true at every age and in every demographic group. Disparities in school attendance rates starting as early as preschool and kindergarten contribute to achievement gaps and high school dropout rates. Therefore, we have made tackling absenteeism a high priority, focusing not only on average daily attendance (the percentage of students who show up at school each day), but also on chronic absence, because average figures do not reveal whether absences are spread evenly or concentrated with a few students. Using data wisely and employing a variety of strategies, we are committed to promoting good school attendance for every individual student.

Goal Two: Behavior

2a  In every school, the total number of students assigned Exclusionary Discipline will decrease by 50% or more when compared to the number who were excluded during the 2016-2017 school year.

2b  Across the district, the Exclusionary Discipline Gap (i.e. the disparity in the number of exclusions applied to various subgroups of students) will shrink by 50% or more of the gap that occurred during the 2016-2017 school year.

Exclusionary discipline describes any type of school disciplinary action that removes a student from his or her usual educational setting, like suspension and expulsion. While we acknowledge that sometimes students must be excluded to ensure safety and an orderly learning environment, we also know that exclusionary discipline alone (1) does not promote more appropriate behavior and (2) increases dropout rates and risk for involvement in the justice system. Therefore, we are committed to implementing more effective strategies for decreasing inappropriate behavior and utilizing more positive alternatives to expulsion, suspension, and disciplinary interventions that take students out of class. We are also committed to achieving 100% equity in our application of disciplinary actions across all subgroups of students (not, for instance, being harder on boys than girls or treating children from one ethnic group differently than those from another). The 50% reduction in the gap that we have pledged to achieve in the coming year is a significant step toward our ultimate goal of 100% equity. 

Goal Three: Classwork/Academic Achievement

In every school, by the end of the 2017-2018 school year, 70% or more of all students will achieve Academic Proficiency for his or her grade level as defined by a variety of pre-determined measures (state assessments, local assessments, standards-based assessments, individual classroom assessments, and course grades).

Although we know success takes many forms, we also recognize that our young people’s future will be determined to some extent by how well they achieve on traditional school measures such as state tests and course grades. To proceed confidently toward the ultimate goal of graduating from high school adequately prepared for college and/or a career, each student must meet the academic standards for each grade along the way. Currently, our students’ achievement varies significantly from subject to subject, grade to grade, and school to school. While our aim will always be to help every child achieve proficiency in every core subject during every year of his or academic journey, for the upcoming year we are committed to (1) higher levels of learning for each student and (2) at least 70% of all students reaching grade level standards in every area.

Goal Four: Reading

The number of elementary students reading at or above grade level will be at least 70% by the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Conversely, the number of elementary students requiring Remedial Reading Intervention will decrease by at least 10% during the 2017-2018 school year.

Reading is a critical part of academic success. We know that students who are not reading at or above grade level by the third grade are less likely to achieve academic proficiency throughout their school careers and more likely to drop out. Because it plays such an important role in the overall learning process, we have elevated reading to make it a separate goal in our Improvement Plan. Currently we provide remedial support to students who read below grade level with the goal of catching them up and getting them back with their peers. In other words, we want our remediation classes to be places students visit to get concentrated extra help for a period of time, not places they live during their whole school careers. Therefore, we are committed to measuring the effectiveness of our reading remediation programs by counting the number of students who successfully exit them reading at grade level. We see this as an ongoing process, reducing our remediation numbers by 10% in 2017-2018 and 10% more each year for at least the following two years.

Goal Five: Early Learning

The percentage of incoming Kindergarten students meeting all six Readiness Indicators on the state’s early learning assessment will increase to at least 36% by fall of 2018.

Because we know the first few years of a child’s life are extremely important and a strong start lays the foundation for success throughout a student’s educational journey, we pay attention to our incoming kindergarteners’ readiness for school using a state assessment called WaKIDS. We are committed to working with preschool students, their families and caregivers to ensure all our littlest learners are well-prepared to start school. By fall of 2018, our specific goal is to achieve a 25% increase over fall of 2016 in the number of incoming kindergartners who meet six of six WaKIDS indicators. Such an increase will mean 36% of all kindergartners meet all readiness standards. This is the first step in a multiple-year journey to achieving 100% well-prepared kindergarteners.      

Goal Six: Graduation

The percentage of students in the Class of 2018 who achieve on-time Graduation will be at least 80%, as calculated by the state’s four-year high school graduation rate formula.

Graduation is the ultimate measure of success for our entire school system. We know that a high school diploma is the gateway to many opportunities and generally leads to higher wages and a better way of life. We also know graduation is a process that begins with pre-school readiness, continues through elementary and middle school, and culminates in high school. We are committed to supporting 100% of our students in successfully achieving a high school diploma or its equivalent at the end of their K-12 educational journey. Our specific goal for 2017-2018 is for at least 80% of all Ferndale students who started high school as freshmen in the fall of 2014 to earn their diplomas by the fall of 2018.