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Column: Preparing students for the world's best workforce

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By KATIE CLARKE, District 518

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington School District is among all districts in Minnesota working to equip students for the next generation of the “World’s Best Workforce.” Minn. Stat.§ section 120B.11, passed in 2013, requires all school districts to develop and implement a plan that connects all aspects of the district’s work in one place. Schools will do this by developing a “World’s Best Workforce” plan. The plan intends to focus districts’ works and initiatives to better help students prepare for the workforce.

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District 518 has several plans in place of which some are required by the State of Minnesota, while others are a part of the district’s internal practice. Examples of current plans already existing within the district include: Title I, Title III, Early Literacy, Staff Development, Improvement, Evaluation, Technology, and others. The World’s Best Workforce legislation is a comprehensive review of the existing plans to ensure they are all working together and providing the best possible education for all students. Theoretically speaking, a comprehensive implementation of all plans in tandem will equip students with necessary knowledge and skills to be productive World’s Best Workforce contributors upon graduation.

The district has focused initiatives that are working to prepare students for the world’s best workforce. First, District 518 is accredited, which means national school improvement criteria are met assuring certain best practices occur at all schools. As a part of the accreditation process, the district completes annual internal audits of practices. The audits provide impetus for professional development and curriculum and instruction planning for the upcoming year.

In addition to the accreditation process, District 518 is nearing the completion of a teacher evaluation plan, is currently implementing a principal evaluation plan and in progress of instituting a K-12 1:1 initiative for technology to increase student learning. All of these efforts, while outlined in several documents and plans, are reviewed and intentionally connected through the World’s Best Workforce Plan.

Progress towards preparing students for the world’s best workforce is evident within all schools. Each school’s work is focused on the district improvement plan, of which focuses on practices within professional learning communities and differentiated lesson delivery models. Within these two district identified improvement areas, data and technology integration are focus points.

Prairie Elementary is focused on literacy efforts to ensure all students are reading at a third-grade level, as required in the Early Literacy Plan. Student literacy is measured through standardized and teacher-developed common assessments.

The middle school is implementing technology devices 1:1, which serve as tools for teachers to shift classroom instruction from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. A second purpose for the 1:1 initiative is to increase student engagement in the classroom.

The high school and ALC schools are preparing for 1:1 technology next year and focusing work on differentiated instruction training for teachers. Additionally, the high school offers several advanced courses including Advanced Placement, Concurrent Enrollment and College in the Schools. Students participating in these courses are eligible to receive college credit at higher education institutions.

A recent review of all district plans revealed that the district is on track in working towards a few focused items to improve student achievement and prepare students for the World’s Best Workforce. The district remains focused on Professional Learning Communities, using and interpreting data, planning and implementing appropriate interventions, and integrating technology in the classroom. Ultimately, this legislation has provided a platform from which to ensure all plans are working towards the same goal in creating the World’s Best Workforce.

Katie Clarke is the director of school improvement for District 518.

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