Fort Wayne Community Schools provides basic information about questions raised regarding honors classes

(Courtesy of Fort Wayne Community Schools)

Parents had a lot of questions after Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson laid out a plan Monday night for how the district will approach the future and new state-ordered pathways to graduation.

FWCS officials still are working on details, but here is some basic information regarding issues raised by parents during Monday’s FWCS board of school trustees meeting, where many parents voiced concern about the possible elimination of separate high school honors classes:

RELATED STORY: Parents, students voice concerns about Fort Wayne Community Schools’ possible plans regarding honors classes

FUTURE MEETING

Parents asked for a future meeting when families from all FWCS schools can attend, hear information from FWCS administrators and ask questions about it. That will take place, but it likely will involve five separate meetings – one for parents and students at each of FWCS’ five high schools, said Krista Stockman, FWCS public information officer. Families with students attending elementary and middle schools feeding into that high school also will be welcome to attend.

No meeting dates have been set yet, Stockman said. The dates will depend in part on when school board members are available to attend.

THE PEER GRANT

The $50 million U.S. Department of Education Teacher and School Leadership Incentive Program (TSLIP) grant the district received must be used to address the needs FWCS identified in its grant application, Stockman said.

FWCS calls its plan for use of the grant the PEER: Performance + Equity = Excellent Results! program.

The focus areas identified in the grant application mainly involve:

• Overhaul and increase the difficulty of classroom curriculum.

• Implement STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) at Wayne High School and its feeder elementary and middle schools and a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) focus at South Side High School and the fine arts magnet schools that feed into it.

• Provide professional training to teachers to increase their effectiveness.

• Implement a unified classroom approach, which involves tying in various technological resources, such as assessments for students, student grade information for parents, and lesson plans and materials for teachers.

“When we applied for the grant, we recognized there are some schools that need more support – for students and staff,” Stockman said.

“Our intent is to grow the teachers who are in those targeted buildings and increase their effectiveness,” she said.

Some PEER program grant funds will be used to offer incentives for teachers to seek more training, including possibly earning national board certification, she said.

THE PROPOSED PLAN

At Monday’s meeting, Robinson said the plan she outlined wasn’t an approach required by the state legislature. FWCS officials believe it will help the most students succeed.

That includes placing students of varying achievement levels in the same class and having the teacher instruct each one at his or her level rather than having separate honors classes as FWCS does now, Robinson said at the school board meeting.

“We applied for the PEER grant before graduation pathways were announced,” Stockman said. “With the new graduation pathways, we feel we have to start right now” making changes.

FWCS likely will make additional changes along the way, she added.

The Indiana State Board of Education approved the new graduation pathways requirements in early December, effective in fall 2018 for current seventh-graders. The state board’s decision came despite pleas from educators around the state to slow down the process and to take more time to design the pathways and work out details on what is expected of students.

“Overall, it benefits all of our schools,” Stockman said of FWCS’ plan. “That is the goal of this.”

COMMENTS