Education

Ensuring Student Success

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WilbanksBy J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/Superintendent
Gwinnett County Public Schools

As we close the books on another successful school year in Gwinnett County Public Schools, our work continues this summer on three important initiatives that are integral to ensuring our students graduate high school prepared for college, career, and citizenship – in short, success in life.

First, we decided several years ago to revise our system of personnel evaluations to base them on performance. #We chose to begin with developing an evaluation system that would help teachers improve their effectiveness in order to raise student achievement. Such an evaluation instrument would be fair and simple to administer without being simplistic, and would provide genuine feedback on the teacher”s level of effectiveness in the classroom.

We piloted the “Gwinnett Teacher Effectiveness System”# in 56 schools this year, preparing for district-wide use next year. We are focusing on “effectiveness”# because we wanted not just an evaluation tool but a system that will identify areas of strength as well as growth for each teacher, and enable us to individualize a teacher”s professional development based on specific needs. A parallel “Leader Effectiveness System”# for principals and assistant principals also will be implemented beginning in August.

Second, we continue to work on aligning our Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) Curriculum with the state”s Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. Those standards are in place now for language arts in all grades and mathematics in grades K-9. Remaining high school math will be phased in over the next two years. Literacy standards in science, social studies, and technical education also are being phased in for grades 6-12.

The AKS Curriculum always has been aligned with the state”s curriculum and with the state, national, and international assessments our students take. With Georgia”s adoption of the common core, we will have consistent standards”within Georgia and from state to state”that define the knowledge and skills our graduates will need to be successful and competitive after high school.

Third is our eCLASS initiative for maximizing the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. eCLASS is a five-year initiative we began two years ago, recognizing the need to fully incorporate digital content and make it available to students and teachers anytime, anywhere. eCLASS also enables us to gather and analyze data that provides teachers with information they need to better plan instruction and measure students” learning. #We introduced parts of eCLASS district wide this year, and are preparing to pilot the curriculum and instruction component in 33 schools in 2013-2014.

So while it may be summer break time, in Gwinnett County Public Schools we are busy working on initiatives important to ensuring our students will be prepared to take their place as successful citizens of the 21st century.