By Tammy Gray
When Holbrook schools resumed classes after the winter break, staff and administrators met to set goals for the coming calendar year and to review accomplishments from the past year.
One of the top priorities for the coming year is making a smooth transition to the new Common Core teaching standards. That transition has already started, but the first assessments won’t take place until the coming school year. Superintendent Robbie Koerperich explained that he expects an initial drop in scores as students and teachers adjust to the new standards, but believes that in the long-term, scores will rise.
“We’re going to see an implementation dip,” he said. “I expect scores to somewhat decline because it is a new assessment. It could be a shocker for the state, the nation and our community.”
Koerperich pointed out, however, that the new standards are rigorous, and focus on thinking and applying knowledge, not just absorbing facts.
“It’s more complex. We need to teach kids thinking skills,” he said. “It’s not just about taking in knowledge, but what are we doing with that information? How does it apply to the real world?”
He noted that he hopes parents and community members understand that although it will take time for students to adjust to the new standards and that scores may initially drop, the long-term goal dovetails with the district’s overall goal of preparing students for success after high school.
“We want to help students become who they’re capable of becoming,” he said. “Whatever a child wants to be, we want to give them those fundamentals to reach their aspirations.”
Koerperich explained that with the passage of the budget override in 2013, the district is in good shape financially, and can focus on recruiting effective staff and keeping class sizes small in 2014, rather than on plans to deal with potential budget cuts trickling down from the state and federal governments.
No major construction is planned this year. Koerperich noted that energy efficiency and school security projects have been completed, leaving staff and administrators free to focus on students. He explained that the earlier investment in energy efficient campuses will allow the district to spend more of its funding on students instead of utilities.
A small expansion may take place at Indian Wells Elementary School. Administrators are working on a partnership with the Navajo Nation and First Things First to create a preschool program. According to Koerperich, if the partnership is successful, the program could start as soon as the fall semester.
Although it won’t take place in 2014, staff and administrators will continue to work on a technology plan that will give every student personal access to a computer or tablet. Eventually, the majority of assignments and activities will be delivered and completed electronically.
“Our goal is to eventually get to one-to-one computing,” Koerperich said, explaining that he expects it will be three to five years before the district reaches that goal.
In the meantime, Koerperich noted, staff and administrators will continue to try to find ways to improve.
“Part of our initiative in the Holbrook School District is to never stop getting better,” he said.
By Tammy Gray