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Dist. 88 discusses strategic plan

Courtesy of Independent School District 88 A graphic depicting the school district’s strategic plan and initiatives as related to district goals.

NEW ULM — As District 88 finished issuing the last of the Chromebooks to students this week, the school board held a study session Thursday to discuss the district’s strategic plan and the development of a personalized learning program.

Director of Technology Michael Milbourn and building principals reported that the issuing process of the Chromebooks and the implementation of the district’s 1:1 technology initiative experienced very few hiccups over the last week and a half, and feedback from students and staff was positive.

“I would caution as we do this that this doesn’t mean that this is one and done,” Superintendent Jeff Bertrang said. “We have to follow up now on the instructional side of it and how it is going to help kids grow and be better as learners, and get them more personalized with it.”

As the “newness” of the personal devices wears off and the district settles in to fully implement the Chromebooks into classroom learning, Bertrang said the district is going to look into what other technologies in the buildings need to be updated or replaced.

But the 1:1 tech initiative is only a sliver of the district’s overarching strategic plan to meet its goals during the current school year and into the future.

The strategic plan is composed of three goals: increase student achievement by 3 percent each year as measured by MCAs, personalized learning for all, and building upon the confidence and support of the community.

The plan’s second goal of personalized learning for all serves as a tie-in for all three that directly affects student achievement and confidence/support from the community, Bertrang said.

“It has an effect on number one which is increasing student achievement,” he said. “If we do it right, and we get kids involved in the community, it affects goal number three because with personalized learning they go out and meet and do things.”

Director of Learning Services Paul Henn provided the study session with a preview of the personalized learning program with an announcement of resources that may be used in the future to implement the learning model.

“It’s not really a ‘deer in the headlights’ look as much as it was a ‘where do we start with moving something like personalized learning forward in our district,'” Henn said. “We talked about what we want that vision of learning to be with our 1:1 initiative and how we want to move forward in advanced teaching and learning.”

Henn said the district was accepted into the Google Education Project for Personalized Learning that he said provides a slew of resources tied to Google and its transitional program for school districts moving toward personalized learning.

The Google Education Project also partners with Education Elements as a collaborative initiative to provide a personalized learning model and framework to school districts.

“It’s some pretty neat news and there’s going to be more to come on this,” Henn said.

The district’s 1:1 technology initiative falls under the strategic plan’s second goal of personalized learning for all.

A graphic provided by District 88 lays out the three goals of the strategic plan with individual, smaller goals falling under the three overarching ones.

The next regular school board meeting is 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, in the district board room at 414 S. Payne St.

Gage Cureton can be emailed at gcureton@nujournal.com.

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