by Superintendent Luke Francois

The Board of Education approved a strategic plan that includes four areas of focus: Fiscal Responsibility, Community Engagement, Academic Achievement, and Technology. Today’s column will focus on efforts to date surrounding academic achievement.

The District has invested time and resources to embrace the concept of Professional Learning Communities. Professional Learning Communities focus on results, the use of data, and a collaborative culture. Working together teachers accomplish more than in the past when working in isolation. In a Professional Learning Community, teachers define essential learning outcomes that are viable learning targets that teachers guarantee students will learn. Teachers monitor essential learning targets through assessments, that are not graded, to determine which students have and have not learned the guaranteed learning targets. Plans are then implemented to guarantee students learn the essential learning targets.

At the next regular school board meeting on February 8th, the District will provide a report to the board on essential targets identified, assessments given, and plans for students to learn essential skills.

Efforts to become a Professional Learning Community have yielded amazing results. Upon my arrival in 2011, Mineral Point Schools were last or second to last in academic achievement areas of language arts and mathematics on Wisconsin assessments. Five years later I am pleased to report that efforts by staff have translated into assessment scores that far exceed state averages. Preliminary data shows Mineral Point Schools leading math and language arts when compared to CESA 3 schools and clearly in the top tier of schools throughout Dane County.

Mineral Point elementary hosted a site visit for Prairie du Chien Schools, an elementary school attempting to learn from Mineral Point’s recent successes, with Mount Horeb visiting in the near future. Clearly Mineral Point schools are gaining attention. At the next school board meeting, the district will provide results on state-wide assessments.

The Board of Education set additional goals for the district as well. Board goals include improvement on the ACT test, an increase in academic rigor as demonstrated by students enrolled in AP courses and number of students enrolled in dual enrollment courses (courses that receive high school and college credit) through a measurable increase of 10% respectively. Additionally, the number of students accepted into post secondary institutions will increase. Finally, by the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year, 100% of students will read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade.

The goals set in motion are rigorous yet attainable and the upward trend of academic growth of Mineral Point Schools is most exciting.