Our view: On the right track | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: On the right track

At issue

South Routt School District has developed a draft academic strategic plan to improve the district’s test scores.

Our view

We salute the Soroco district for recognizing one of its most pressing problems and taking meaningful steps to remedy it.

We were both encouraged and gratified to read last week about South Routt School District’s emerging plan to get the district on the right track in terms of curriculum and test scores.

At issue

South Routt School District has developed a draft academic strategic plan to improve the district’s test scores.

During a meeting of the Soroco School Board Tuesday, the district’s new assessment coordinator, Rim Watson, a former middle school principal from Bailey, presented board members with a draft academic strategic plan. In it, he discussed the school system’s assessment results, prioritizing which metrics merit the closest scrutiny when shaping future curriculum and emphasizing the need to introduce more rigorous coursework.

Watson told board members that, though Soroco teachers are to be commended for their dedication and hard work, they need to raise standards for students and emulate best teaching practices that are working for their colleagues, as well as those being utilized successfully in comparable districts.

“The rigor of coursework has the highest impact on college and career readiness,” Watson told board members. “If (another teacher) is doing better than us, let’s go find out what they’re doing and do it.”

In our opinion, this approach is forward thinking and proactive, and we commend Watson and the Soroco board for their willingness to take a hard look at the most pressing problems facing the district and develop workable solutions to remedy them.

Soroco continues to face daunting challenges, most notably, declining enrollment and the attendant budgetary limitations this troubling trend exacerbates. And while this problem won’t be solved with a draft plan alone, we think the fact that school leaders are trying to do something about it is very progressive.

And beyond the monetary concerns, hiring an assessment coordinator to take a fearless and thorough look at such metrics as test scores, curriculum and overall student achievement and develop workable strategies for improvement shows that Soroco remains committed to providing its students the best education possible.

And at its most basic foundation, isn’t that was running a school is all about?

Too often, we compare Soroco to Steamboat, sometimes forgetting that the two are very different school systems based in very different communities. We think Watson’s approach — comparing South Routt to districts with similar demographics — makes a good deal more sense.

As part of the new draft academic strategic plan, Soroco leaders have set two goals for the upcoming year: to be the highest-scoring district in terms of student proficiency among 10 comparable districts and to have student growth scores in the 60th percentile year over year.

We think these are noble — and attainable — goals, and we sincerely hope the district is successful in achieving them.

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