Over the holiday break, my family and I spent time with our relatives. We were away from school, doing our best to be present with those around us. Yet in a family full of teachers, it was not uncommon for our conversation to bend toward education. One topic that came up was the success of the Mineral Point School District. We proudly shared about our work around professional learning communities and effective literacy instruction.
Taking pride in our successes and how we achieved them is not a bad thing. I don’t feel like the district is gloating. As a faculty, we are striving to constantly get better. The results, such as test scores and school report cards, are evidence of these efforts. Yet with these results comes expectations. I get the feeling that as we continue to tout our excellent outcomes, disappointment might follow if we were not able to continue to achieve these results.
“Why wouldn’t we continue to be successful?” you might ask. A reasonable question. A concern is that our school report cards are primarily based on our test results. These are one-shot opportunities for students to show what they know. If these assessments are how we are judged, schools can start to focus on doing well on a test versus providing an excellent education for all students.
One thing we are doing to address this challenge is by focusing on high-quality, consistent professional learning experiences for faculty. One Wednesday afternoon a month, we come together to learn about a new reading and writing strategy to try and apply in the classroom. Also, we are exploring better ways to assess our students beyond a test or score, such as through performance tasks that honor all ways students are smart.
I would be just fine as the #2 district in the state every year. We have every reason to be proud of these results. Yet I take more pride in our willingness to constantly improve as professionals on behalf of our students and families. We present ourselves as examples of what it means to be a lifelong learner. The results are harder to measure, but they are essential to student success.
PRINCIPAL, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
This is Matt’s eighteenth year in public education. He started as a 5th and 6th grade teacher in a country school outside of Wisconsin Rapids, WI. After seven years of teaching, Matt served as an assistant principal, athletic director, and building principal all in Wisconsin Rapids. As an elementary principal with the Mineral Point Unified School District, he enjoys working with students, staff, and families in their collective pursuit of lifelong learning