Lafayette’s new school superintendent says he expects principals to boost performance scores for their schools by at least three points annually over the next three years and wants them to spend more time leading in the classroom — rather than in their offices.
Superintendent Donald Aguillard, who wants the parish to become designated as an A-rated school district within three years, outlined his initiatives during a principals meeting held Monday.
The current district performance score is a B, based on state accountability standards.
Aguillard shared details of his meeting with the principals in a news release issued on Tuesday. He told the school leaders that the strategies he’s pursuing are a “focused lens to improve student learning.”
He encouraged them to schedule collaborative planning time for their teachers and to focus on literacy and data-driven decision making to tweak instruction.
Aguillard said he also expects principals to schedule quarterly academic review meetings with their school’s leadership team to dig deeply into potential learning gaps and to ensure curriculum remains in line with the needs of students.
“What we’re trying to do is focus very clearly on teaching and learning,” Aguillard said. “I want them to move from monitoring the teaching taking place to monitoring whether learning has taken place. Not to measure did the teacher teach, but did a majority of kids learn what was taught?”
Principals are planning now for the upcoming school year and building master schedules for their staff.
Kathy Aloisio, principal at L.J. Alleman Middle and president of the parish’s principals advisory council, said making time for teachers to plan together supports a school’s instructional goals.
“A driving point of my school is providing collaborative time for my teachers, and it drives my master schedule,” she said. “English, math, science, social studies (teachers) have collaborative time to plan every day.”
In a recent interview with The Acadiana Advocate, Aguillard said one of his priorities is to provide additional management training to principals this summer so they could become true instructional leaders on their campuses. On Tuesday, Aguillard said his staff is working with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Education to develop training for principals that he hopes will be available before the new school year starts.
Aloisio said the management model Aguillard wants to use helps principals chart how they spend their time to become more effective in managing their daily duties.
“It makes you more efficient,” she said. “His goal is for us to be in our classrooms at least 40 percent of the time. I think it’s doable. It’s going to take some change for some people.”
Aloisio said it will be a different way of doing business, and there may be wait times for parents or returned calls. But, she said, if instruction is going to be the number one priority “you have to model that to your staff and to your students by being in their classrooms and being instructional leaders.”
L.J. Alleman Middle is among the high-performing schools in the parish and houses the middle school performing arts academy. Students attend the campus from across the district as part of the schools of choice program.
The school’s performance score increased by at least three points in the 2013-14 school year to maintain an A letter grade based on the state accountability measures. School performance scores for 2014-15 are unavailable and likely won’t be released until later this fall due to state standardized testing changes implemented this spring.
“I think if we focus our instruction and plan accordingly we should be able to meet it,” Aloisio said of the three-point goal. “There will be some who earn more than three and some who earn less and hopefully, it will balance out. I believe that we have the opportunity to grow as a district — absolutely.”
Aguillard said he also expects some schools may not make a three-point gain but expects all schools to show some growth in the next year.
“That goal is achievable in any one year academically,” Aguillard said. “I told them we really expect all schools to show academic gains. I think what will happen is that some will grow more than three. Some less than three. I hope that we don’t have any that are stagnant.”
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.