The Provo City School District Board of Education and senior district leadership have jointly developed this set of goals as a means of establishing priorities, values, and non-negotiables to guide the work of the district. The priorities, values, and non-negotiables are representative of known research on quality schools and districts, input from constituents via board members, input from staff throughout the district (through surveys and committees), and defensible observations by school and district leaders.
Goals and important activities are listed in this document and serve as the non-negotiables. The 20/20 Initiative, as established in 2010, also serves as a foundation for the non-negotiables.
No timeline for the goals is established in this document as the goal headings themselves may be relevant for many years to come. Many of the activities under each goal heading will likely be accomplished in a shorter period of time, with updates and revisions to occur annually.
This document was developed in early 2013 and unanimously approved by the Provo City School District Board of Education on April 9, 2013.
Goal I: Continuous Academic Improvement and Transparency
All students are expected to make at least one year’s growth in one year’s time. In so doing, all students are expected to end each school year fully prepared to move to the next grade level.
For students who are below grade level, more aggressive approaches must be taken to get them to catch up and keep up with grade level performance standards. It is the responsibility of all educators in the district to ensure that students in their classes/programs who are performing below grade level receive additional interventions and support to accomplish even more than one year’s growth in one year’s time.
All schools will have a School Improvement Plans (SIP) developed on a 2-year cycle that addresses Math and Literacy growth. The district SIP template will be used. Additional goals may be added based on a given school’s needs, but those additional goals must not detract from the accomplishment of Math and Literacy goals.
Each school is expected to perform according to the following criteria:
- Minimum standard is to reach state averages for test scores in every tested subject and grade level.
- Once the state averages are met, each tested grade level and subject area is expected to improve its scores by a minimum of 5% each year.
- All schools will administer district and state formative assessments to guide student learning and progress, and to accomplish relevant adjustments in instruction.
- All schools will actively track and report their progress, developing longitudinal reports that show the direction of student achievement in each school.
The district, schools, and teachers are required to utilize student achievement data that is both based on local standards and normed against external standards (when available) to ensure continuous and calibrated improvement in student learning.
Transparency: School Improvement Plans will be posted on school websites. Student achievement results, as school-wide data, will also be posted on the school website. District-wide student achievement data will be posted on the district website. School data elements that specifically align with the “District Progress Report” will also be posted on the school website.
We will continue to support immersion, specialty, and college-level programs in schools to the extent that they are contributing to significant student achievement. These programs are expected not to operate in isolation. Their continuation may be subject to possible reduction (or elimination) if funding sources decline or evaporate.
Co-curricular and extracurricular programs will continue to be supported as part of the overall district educational program so long as they contribute to (and do not detract from) the academic standards noted above.
High School schedules, graduation requirements, and grading practices will be reviewed – and adjusted, if needed – to ensure maximum student readiness for post-high school life.
Goal II: Support for Teachers and Teaching Aligned with Research, Best Practices, and Teacher-Identified Needs
To best support teaching efforts in the school district, an overall system to provide support and direction is needed.
Annual surveys of all certificated staff will be conducted to make plans for the professional development program in the district. To some extent, district administration must also set the direction for professional development, regardless of teacher interest, for important new external initiatives that will impact all districts. Two current examples are 1) the upcoming impact of Utah Core Standards on students, teachers, curriculum, and instructional methodologies, and 2) the new state assessment system.
The new state evaluation system is a difficult path to navigate and will require attention and work to fully and meaningfully implement. Teacher and Principal professional development will be aligned with the state teaching and leadership standards in an effort to assist in improved performance and career longevity.
Professional development efforts will be additive over the years instead of random. A compelling topic (or two) that was important enough to address in the district will still remain in future years, with subsequent topics adding to (not distracting from) each year’s professional development focus. This, collectively, will become a foundation of the proposed “Provo Way.”
District support for Level 1 teachers in attaining Level 2 licenses through Entry Years Enhancement (EYE) and support of programs for professional endorsements will continue
Teacher instructional coaching will continue for the time being, until the need subsides. Teacher instructional coaching may be the result of a teacher or principal-based request, or may come at the direction of the Human Resources department and/or supervisor to address observed deficiencies in teaching practice. The intent is to support teacher efforts to improve.
A variety of teacher-dominated, subject-specific district committees will be formed. The committees are each led by a small number of administrators, whose role it is to facilitate. The teachers will identify the areas to be addressed and will generate solutions.
An active and functioning Human Resources Department will assist with teacher needs and ensure total compliance with local, state, and federal employment regulations.
Goal III: Improved Certainty and Stability in the Direction of the District
Certainty and stability in the direction of the district will be established through the creation of non-negotiables. Appropriate long-term planning, accompanied by a strong commitment to such plans, provides direction and confidence throughout the system.
The following points serve as subsets of this goal of Improved Certainty and Stability in the Direction of the District:
- Continuation of the Policy Project to define and clarify appropriate regulations and practices in all aspects of district operations.
- A commitment to focus on the most important priorities and accomplish excellence.
- The commitment to run a district office that is only as large as is required to provide support to schools, leadership to the district, and compliance in all areas of local, state, and federal reporting.
- The willingness/commitment to report regularly to the community via a “District Progress Report” posted on the Provo School District Website and updated regularly when new data is available.
- Establish a comprehensive set of communication practices with students, parents, and community.
- Developing “The Provo Way” as a means of operationalizing components of the 20/20 Initiative, high quality professional development, important instructional strategies, highest-quality hiring practices, and other direction-setting components represented in the goals within this document.
- Instructional support planning will be calendared and well established at the beginning of each school year. Mid-year course corrections may be needed, but significant shifts in focus and/or direction will not occur unless the initial plan is simply failing beyond recovery.
- Safety for students and staff will be an ongoing high priority. The anti-bullying campaign is part of this overall safety effort. All staff will engage in safety drills and training to ensure that our students, staff, and public can have confidence in our efforts to retain a safe environment in all buildings and at all school activities.
Goal IV: Financial Prioritization, Long-Term Planning and Transparency
This goal is intended to ensure stability in the financial and operations management in the district, and to garner even greater support and understanding for district financial decisions. To facilitate increased confidence in the finances and operations of the district, a balanced budget plan will be developed each year, regardless of external changes in funding.
The central mission of the district is to educate students effectively. Therefore all planning that takes place must support the teaching-learning process. As many resources as possible will be allocated to schools for the direct implementation of the delivery of education to students.
The district will implement the practice of establishing long-term planning in the following areas:
- Multi-year Budget Planning
- Multi-year Facilities Planning
- Curriculum purchases and replacement cycles
- Technology purchases and replacement cycles
- Multi-year Salary/Compensation Planning
The Board also has set as a goal for the 2013-14 school year for the permanent reduction of 1% of current expenditures within the district operating budget. District administration is responsible to find these reductions, which will likely come from a combination of budget cuts and non-replacement of personnel who are retiring or resigning.
The finance department will continue to strive to accomplish additional methods of demonstrated transparency, including outreach to the general public in Provo City. This may be done through the establishment of a budget committee, community budget forums, and the Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC). Other such efforts may also be made under the direction of the Board.
The Human Resources department will work to review and refine staff Full Time Equivalent (FTE) allocations based on affordable and defensible rationale to reflect state funding compliance and district priorities.
A request/approval process for new initiatives has been implemented. This method will manage (and sift) new ideas that, although potentially worthy, must only be approved if they align with the established goals of the district.
Long-term planning regarding existing immersion programs must be addressed, with clear plans developed regarding how secondary schools will educate advanced foreign language students
Significant aspects of the operations within this goal will be reported and updated periodically on the (new – June 2013) District Progress Report.
Goal V: Teamwork, Professional Conduct, and Civility
The most productive and successful school districts function with a sense of unity and common purpose among all constituents. This goal is to ensure a culture of productivity and effectiveness that is not driven by coercion, but instead by professional language and intent, and behaviors connected with clearly-stated, district-wide goals.
Parents are valued partners with the district, schools, and teachers in the education of children. We commit to establishing a climate in each school where parents feel welcome and can make meaningful contributions to the school in coordination with school and district leaders. We further commit to communicating effectively with parents, recognizing that some items and topics have elements of confidentiality.
In December 2012, the Board passed a policy entitled “Civility.” Procedures have also been developed. The Board believes that all parties in the district (staff, parents, community, students) must treat one another civilly, and that doing so will only foster the potential for better communication and problem solving. We also expect parents to conduct themselves respectfully toward all employees, refraining from errant threats and aggressive behavior and language.
District administrators in the summer of 2012 developed a set of Professional Behavior Norms. This important document will be used to set the tone for and guide interactions throughout the district, both in formal and informal settings. People attending meetings are expected to conduct themselves professionally. They may disagree with something but are expected to do so respectfully. Meeting attendees are expected to make positive, meaningful contributions to the meeting. Employees are expected to demonstrate loyalty to the district. They should take their concerns and complaints to their immediate supervisor for resolution. If still unresolved at that point, the issue should be taken to the next supervisory level.
Employees are also expected to demonstrate loyalty by not publicly deriding the district or any school, program, or employee. The public wants to have confidence in the district. Employees, however, will have the right to exercise a “whistleblower” approach if they see violations of laws or regulations, or professional conduct. Again, such concerns must follow a formal reporting sequence and process.
As a general standard, the Board discourages anonymous communication. We intend to foster and maintain a culture where people can and will have respectful conversations with one another about all issues related to the district. The Board expects that those in authority will exercise that authority, and yet they will not be coercive nor will they employ retaliatory tactics against subordinates who voice concerns. All parties are expected to behave in a civil, problem-solving manner. Face-to-face conversations are much more valuable and useful than anonymous communications.
The Board will work with senior district administration to develop measurable standards to track improvements in this goal area.