The overarching goal for the Denison Independent School District is pretty straightforward — provide a quality education for each student — but not so simple.
“We need to identify the areas that we’ve had problems with, not only all students, but subgroups, and then we need to put some kind of intervention plan in place to strengthen those areas,” Denison Superintendent Henry Scott said.
The District Improvement Plan is the annually-review master plan that outlines how that will take place in the district. Scott describe it as “the blueprint to move the district forward.”
It is also a state requirement and was approved by the Denison School Board recently. In DISD, it’s developed by a committee of teachers, administrators, parents and community and business leaders. Scott said it’s a three-month process that begins by analyzing testing data to identify needs. Those are developed into objectives, then action steps.
“I think planning is important in any endeavor you do, whether it’s a family budget or school district or whatever,” Scott said. “You’ve got to have a planning documents that’s both short-range and long-range.”
The plan identifies how areas are to be evaluated, who’s responsible, and the resources available for the goal. The superintendent said those elements help ensure the plan guides district employees and doesn’t become a paper weight.
The plan, along with campus-level data, is also the starting point for campus improvement plans, which will be developed over the coming weeks. Each campus-level plan will be driven by the goals of the district plan and also by the individual campus needs.
Scott said one area that is likely to be prevalent in all the plans, and is in the district plan, is a focus on writing. “All across the state districts have struggled with writing, so we’ve taken a lot different approach to writing,” he said.
The change comes after the first year of a new rating system for Texas districts and the second year of a new testing system. The testing focuses on different types of writing than previous generations of tests and has the added element of a time limit.
Scott said the plan also outlines a time line for each area and includes regular evaluation of progress. Much of the plan’s focus is on student learning, but it also includes topics like safety and integrating technology into learning.
“I’m a big believer that if you don’t write down your goals, you don’t achieve them,” Scott said. “I think planning is essential to improvement. … I just don’t think you can move in the right direction without one.”