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School Board Looks to Revamp Public School Experience

Members of the Windsor board of education are looking to make a number of changes in the town's public educational system, including a complete shift from its current mission statement.

According to its missions statement, Windsor Public Schools are dedicated to working with Windsor families and the community at large to help its students grow into "responsible and productive adults" in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse and changes rapidly. The Windsor board of education, however, is looking to take things in a new direction.

Board members recently held three special meetings to discuss the role of the board of education, set its goals for the district, and kickstart a revival in the public educational experience in town. According to Board President Doreen Richardson, improving education in town includes moving away from its current mission statement, which, she says, has been criticized for "aspiring toward mediocrity."

While the board has yet to nail down the specific goals that will be announced for the district, it has spent considerable time laying out a foundation of values upon which action toward progress can take place.

"We want a high-level view of the educational experience. One that allows for the fullest expression of the resources we have in this district," said Richardson.

The most important part of the "high-level view" the district will assume, Richardson says, is its ability to separate goals from indicators of success.

In the past, Windsor schools have taken an approach that is too narrow, Richardson explains, making the mistake calling positive results on CMT and CAPT scores goals. Test results, just like the "goal" of getting all third-grade students in Windsor to read on a certain level by a particular date, are "indicators of meeting goals," Richardson added, but the reason why those indicators should be met are in fact the goals the district must set.

"It's bigger than CMTs and CAPTs," Richardson said of what the measurement of quality education in town. "It's measured by the child's whole educational experience and what the community experiences when they interact with our schools. We want that when people think of their own ideas, they see them reflected in our schools."

What the district must do is move "toward a vision of excellence in which all children can succeed," said Richardson.

"We need to create an environment for all children to discover their whole potential... Create a system that allows teachers to do their best work, and (create) conditions conducive to high levels of learning. We want our schools to be admired and respected by everyone in the community."

Accordingly, the board is taking a look at adjusting its current mission statement to reflect the values and ideas the board has articulated in recent meeting, and then the real work begins.

The real work will take place in ensuring the manifestation of the goals win the work that is completed in each Windsor classroom.

According to Richardson, this will be achieved through the board's work with district administration to identify indicators of achieving goals (indicators such as test results or even how children are doing with behaviors known to b indicators of academic achievement), administrators work to ensure indicators and associated actions are conveyed to building principals, and principals will be charged with committing to the realization of those actions in each classroom.

Heidi Sirota September 04, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I wholeheartedly agree. Having a goal only to produce productive and responsible adults falls short of the real potential of Windsor students. Simply training them to pass standardized tests ignores the advanced skills, talents and passions of so many students. Also, we should revisit our stance on mobile devices in the classroom. They are integral to our lives today and should be used in schools to engage students in learning and doing. Modern ways of doing things shouldn't be shut down and schools cannot continue solely with traditional teaching methods and classroom settings if we aim to raise tomorrow's business and community leaders.
L. Sammartano September 04, 2012 at 06:40 PM
The first step should be to allow teachers freedom in their classrooms to do more than teach to the test. The emphasis on test scores has lead to the near obliteration of real learning in the classrooms. We must also our teachers to be creative and inspirational in the classrooms instead of tying them to a screening and testing schedule that has no real relation to learning.

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