District Update

District Updates
Posted on 12/20/2023
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Dear Ware Community,

We are excited to celebrate the many accomplishments that have marked the first semester of the 2023-2024 school year. In Ware, we have many things to be proud of, the efforts made by our teachers to build classroom and school community have increased our average daily attendance to an all-time high, and incidences of out-of-class disciplinary action have decreased dramatically. Every day, students enter classrooms ready to learn and our teachers stand ready to support them as they gain new knowledge and look ahead to their futures. As Superintendent, I'm immensely proud of the district's achievements thus far, and even though all of us should share in this pride, our focus on advancing student outcomes must remain our top priority.

As a district, we have been completely transparent in our vision to create a system of equitable access where all students are challenged to develop observable academic skills and achieve their highest potential. We believe that we are most effective when our leaders empower every person to hold themselves accountable for their specific roles and responsibilities. This includes every employee and student who attends one of our schools. 

Recently, as a part of the first phase of a strategic and comprehensive professional development plan to improve the educational experience of every student in Ware, baseline data was collected across the district to identify our areas of weakness. Through this data collection, we have identified an urgent need to improve student academic discourse and writing skills. We will chart an aggressive track toward changes that increase the level of expectation that our teachers have of their students' ability to demonstrate academic skills, through discourse and content-area writing. Five major deficiencies were identified. 

  1. Though the topics of instruction become more complex as students get older, the length and complexity of student responses show little to no increase as students move to higher grade levels.   
  1. The language students use changes between academic terminology and slang or casual dialect causing a gap between the vocabulary they have learned and the words they choose to use independently when speaking or writing. 
  1. Questions tend to be answered by repeating something that was previously said by their peers, decoding an indicated text, describing a visual prompt or picture, or echoing something said by the teacher.   
  1. When physical and digital curricular resources are being implemented, students' questions tend to shift from clarifying their learning to questions focused on progress or completion. 
  1. Students can generally answer formulaic questions that are similar to those they have heard before but struggle to find the same success if the question is paraphrased or posed in a slightly different context.  

These observations are not dissimilar to student behaviors that school districts across the country are dealing with daily. However, in Ware, we strive to create an education that students feel privileged to have attended. To close the gap between what students have learned and what they can academically explain, we will start by redefining student responsibility across all campuses. In essence, teachers will ensure students are expected to actively and visibly demonstrate the following responsibilities in every instructional interaction. 

  • Students will answer questions using complete sentences. 
  • Students will provide evidence, examples, or explanations to support their thinking. 
  • Students will use authentic or academic language suited to the task and audience. 
  • Students will generate, paraphrase, or formulate questions to advance academic discourse. 
  • Students will demonstrate their knowledge through organic expression through grade-appropriate speaking and writing. 

We began the year with a small group of volunteers that has quickly grown to include more than 80% of our staff who share the desire to push our students to new levels of success. Though we acknowledge isolated pockets of hesitation and resistance, the excitement from site leadership and a majority of teachers is both palpable and infectious.  

We believe in the power of a well-delivered education — one student, one relationship, one team, and one school at a time. Great opportunity also brings great responsibility. We commit ourselves to work each day with the responsibility of success for every student in mind and heart.  

Together, we'll achieve amazing results.

Michael P. Lovato