Local teachers give coaches excellent marks

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - In only its second year, the placement of curriculum coaches seems to have been a positive one in Bullitt County Public Schools.

But instead of taking perceptions as the gospel, teachers were given the opportunity to take a short survey on the effectiveness of the 16 coaches currently working in the school district.

Of those who took the survey, 423 teachers had utilized the curriculum coach at their school and their responses were favorable on every question asked.

“I’ve never seen a harder working group of people,” said Terry Price, director of elementary education.

The school board opted to eliminate the lower class sizes in several elementary grades to allow for the additional curriculum coaches this year.

Most schools have a coach designated but some do share a coach.

Greg Schultz, assistant superintendent for student learning, said the key is hiring an excellent group of coaches and he feels the district has a group of excellent instructors.

The work done by the curriculum coaches will vary at each of the schools.

In looking at a group of teacher comments, the duties may range from helping to do lesson plans to analyzing assessment results. Other comments included the ability of the instructional coach to observe the classroom and made recommendations. Still another said it was like having an assistant principal in the school.

When the decision was made to add instructional coaches, superintendent Keith Davis said it would make a major difference in student learning.

At a special meeting last week, board members were also pleased with the instructional coaches, as well as other advancements.

Schultz led board members through the components of the district’s comprehensive improvement plan.

Each year, the district is updating its plan to fulfill some of the deficiencies outlined in a state audit two years ago.

One of the goals is to get more parent involvement. The e-mails sent out at least monthly by principals is one way to increase communications, as well as the Infinite Campus, which has slowly come on-line in the county after some difficulties encountered by the state.

Another goal is to continue the assessments to prepare for the CATS exams in the spring.

Think Link assessments will continue to be done three times prior to the spring CATS.

Students recently took the second round of testing and Schultz said he is very encouraged by the marks.

“It looked really good...scary good,” said Schultz. He added the marks were much better than the second round of assessments last year.

Part of the improvements include making sure teachers are aligned with the state curriculum and training the teachers to use the CATS calculator to help the district reach the state goals.

Response to intervention remains a key component as schools must locate youngsters who are having particular problems and then finding a way to address them, said Schultz.

A new extension of current programs will involve the YMCA Before and After School program. Price said YMCA employees will learn how to use the Study Island and it will be part of the child enrichment program.

The practice of Professional Learning Communities is at different stages in the district, according to Schultz. By next school year, all should be on board.

Both Price and secondary director David Marshall said that teachers are doing a lot of work at all levels. And they said the district administrators are trying to show their support by being in the schools.

Schultz said the walk-throughs each week should be completed in February and then smaller teams would continue the practice to see what is going on in the classrooms and to share the positive things they’ve seen.

Price said it is exciting to see some of the things being done.

The middle school recovery program is underway at Riverview High and Schultz said that would be closely monitored.

Jan Stone, director of research and assessment, said monitoring what is happening is a key. Another important point is moving from the stage of recognizing the problem and then implementing the improvement plan.

A checklist has been devised and Stone said it should be easier to access the program at each school.

Board chairman Sammy Allen said he has been impressed with the work being done the past couple of years.

“I know the district is moving forward,” said Allen. “As a team, we’re going to move this district to the top.”