Lockport pushing for greater student achievement

SouthTown Star – August 6, 2010
BY MICHELLE MULLINS, Correspondent

With the culmination of a monthslong study by an outside educational organization, the Lockport Township High School District 205 board has adopted a series of goals designed to improve student achievement.

The district has been working with the nonprofit Consortium for Educational Change to help develop its long-term goals and ways to monitor success. The district needs to work to maintain a fiscally responsible budget and address overcrowding issues while supporting academic success, according to the consortium.

Among its ideas were helping maximize student achievement by ensuring equitable and consistent grading polices, said Allan Alson, a senior consultant with the consortium. Ensuring teachers are collaborating will help determine how extra credit is given or that grades from one teacher mean the same as those from a different class, he said.

Alson said having consistent grading policies is important but also not easy to do and the discrepancy affects districts across the country. Having teachers collaborate also is a goal so teachers can discuss individual students, review students’ work and decide the best instructional practice, Alson said.

The district also should research and develop the best classroom instruction settings, Alson said. This includes finding the best way for teachers to build relationships with their students, deliver the classroom materials and evaluate students so they can help students achieve, he said.

District 205 also needs to work with the feeder districts so freshmen entering the high school will be prepared, he said.

“The overarching goal of all this work is driving student achievement,” Alson said. “The evolution of this plan will be a journey.”

Although it sought recommendations from the consortium, Lockport frequently has been recognized for academic excellence. The school recently was named one of Newsweek magazine’s top 1,500 high schools in the nation for the fourth straight year.

The consortium also recommended improving interaction and communication among all district stakeholders and assigning the recently formed citizens advisory committee a yearly topic of discussion. To improve communication, the district plans to record board meetings, create a monthly e-newsletter and utilize Facebook and Twitter.

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