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Laying the Foundation for Students to Thrive

Moorhead Area Public Schools - MDE Guest Blogger, Superintendent Lynne Kovash
Second in a five-part series

Published: April 15, 2014

Moorhead Area Public Schools has traditionally been a North Central Minnesota community with a diverse population. This year and in the coming years the district is focusing on Equitable Educational Opportunities, one of our strategic priorities. We are intent upon reducing the achievement gap and making sure every student has the opportunity to achieve. This also is identified in our mission, which is to develop the maximum potential of every learner to thrive in a changing world. We are beginning our community discussion to examine any barriers to students and families that may get in the way of learning and achieving.

Our district has made progress on reducing the achievement gap. We look at data at all levels and in different intensity, from the wide view at the district level to the narrow view for grade levels or professional learning communities. We implemented Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) for all teachers in all schools. This guides our instruction and discussion with a focus on the content and learning objectives. In working in a classroom recently, the teacher was providing guided instruction and then guided discussion in groups after reading a book. This has made a difference for our students, as we believe students need to know and understand what they are learning. Our administrators and School Board members participate in learning walks to observe the student learning happening in the classroom. This observation and the data discussions have added a richer focus to discussion in meetings.

As a district with a strong belief in early childhood education, Moorhead Area Public Schools introduced all-day, every day kindergarten this year. We have expanded our quality preschool experiences for students with the assistance of community partners such as United Way.

Although we have not yet seen the results of some of these strategies to reduce the achievement gap, we do know that we have a strong foundation for our students through early childhood education. We plan to build on that foundation.

We continue to study our data to reduce the achievement gap and will press hard to remove barriers to opportunities for students. We want all students to leave our schools ready for any opportunity they may find. No matter their race or socioeconomic status, all students will meet their full potential to thrive in a changing world.

Read part one in our series from Brooklyn Center Superintendent Mark Bonine