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RFSD strives to close academic achievement gaps

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At the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) Board of Education meeting on Feb. 8, Stacey Park, RFSD chief academic officer, presented the Roaring Fork School’s “Learning Acceleration Plan.”

Park’s presentation cover memo states, “Some of this work has already begun, while some of it will require additional resources in order to launch. The additional resources will be partially funded by the $2.6 million at-risk funding from [Colorado Department of Education] that we received in the spring 2022, as well as by grant funding and more efficient use of existing school budgets.”

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In the spring of 2022, district leadership identified three priorities for the year: developing a comprehensive, district-wide Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) plan, strengthening Tier 1 social-emotional learning (SEL) instruction across content areas and strengthening the school culture and climate.

Last summer and fall, significant disparities were seen in student achievement and growth, especially among student subgroups.

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As work began last fall on the district’s Unified Improvement Plan (UIP), the learning acceleration plan, part of the UIP, was being developed with input from school leaders and the instructional team to explore and remedy the root causes of the academic achievement gap.

To give a more precise definition of MTSS and SEL: MTSS is a collaborative, evidence- and prevention-based approach to individual student learning needs that helps educators proactively identify and provide support through academic and behavioral strategies. MTSS implementation aims to improve outcomes for all students.

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The universal (Tier 1) SEL curriculum helps foster positive environments where students feel safe and supported and achieve a sense of belonging through learning about self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills vital for school and life success.

In his Feb. 22 column in the Post Independent, Superintendent Dr. Jesús Rodríguez clarified proposed staffing changes. He said some existing part-time positions would move to full-time status for those working in English Language Development (ELD) or as math and literacy coaches and other interventionists. The plan would potentially add new positions, such as a dean of student culture.

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The proposed district-level staff additions include a principal supervisor, administrative support for the district’s instructional team and a student experience/culture lead.

The plan lays out major improvement strategies, including:

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Ensuring that all students have access to and authentically engage with rigorous, grade-level content;

Focusing coaching and professional development to strengthen instruction;

Developing and implementing a progress monitoring system that includes support and intervention for all students who need additional and different opportunities to learn; and,

A special emphasis on strengthening support for emerging bilingual students.

Complete implementation of the plan would take several budget cycles. Currently, the learning acceleration plan is a proposal for consideration.

However, Nathan Markham, RFSD chief of finance, will present a detailed budget proposal for board approval at the next regularly-scheduled meeting on March 1 at 6:15pm at the district offices, 400 Sopris Avenue in Carbondale.

Tags: #Roaring Fork School District #Stacey Park
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