School board plans on many fronts

By Nancy Richardson

The Champlain Valley School District (CVSD) Board met on Tuesday, May 19, to continue conversations on the measurement of school indicators that had begun in February, prior to the pandemic. These indicators are measures of the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction in general and are not designed to measure individual student progress.

The conversation quickly moved into issues concerning how the school district should measure traditional curriculum and instruction benchmarks in the midst of a completely altered delivery system: emergency remote instruction. The board decided that the work on global indicators for the system as a whole will continue, but the immediate need may be for local student assessments that track student learning and social emotional health during this altered programming.

Although teachers have put huge effort into remote instruction, the delivery of these lessons has not been at the same level as in-classroom instruction and discussion. The administration acknowledges this and plans to devote major professional development resources to remote instructional programs this summer. The Vermont Learning Collaborative will work with the district on professional development.

A plan is emerging to continue identifying major benchmarks for measurement but also to create local assessments that seek to identify student gaps that may have been created during the spring instructional period. Members of the board and the school administrations will form a task force to identify these measures and report to the full board. There will also be a parent survey to elucidate aspects of instruction that may have been missing in prior surveys. The administration would like to deliver a local assessment this summer, prior to school opening, to identify areas of concern for remediation.

Complicating the matter of instruction and assessment is the fact that the state authorities have not offered guidance on either the financial deficit confronting the state or whether the schools will reopen in the fall. The administration is planning for the possibility that schools will be open, but instruction will most likely be a combination of remote learning and in-class time. This means the district must work with public health experts to create a safe environment in schools and must spend more time and professional development resources on internet instruction.

There is planning for the delivery of special education instruction this summer and perhaps instructional programs for other children who may need remediation. The board will hold a retreat and two additional meetings during the summer to keep pace with the moving target of finance and school openings.