I’m going back to school

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They say you can’t go home again.  Today I’m going to challenge that notion.  25 years after last walking the halls of Thomas Worthington High School as a student, I plan to walk them again today.  Thomas Worthington is unique and the same quarter mile center hallway remains.  It’s uphill when you walk East and downhill when you walk West.  But what has changed?  What’s it like to be a student in 2016?  I’m planning to find out.

Our Director of Secondary Education, Dr. Neil Gupta, asked our senior leadership to take the Shadow a Student Challenge.  Thus over the course of this week he, our Chief Academic Officer, Jennifer Wene, and I will be spending full days as students in our schools.  Our goal is to see the day from a student perspective and thus better lead our district from that same perspective.

The Shadow a Student Challenge website says that “When students feel known and valued by an adult at their school, they show up. When they are engaged in relevant, challenging work, they are building competencies for college, career, and civic life. What is it like to be a student at your school? Juggle the workload? Fit into the culture?”  It calls the event a “one-day crash course in empathy.”

I’m looking forward to my day.  I’ve chosen to follow Thomas Worthington Freshman, Quinn Mottice, for the day.  I don’t know Quinn personally but I once walked the halls as a student with both Rob and Laurie, Quinn’s parents.  We’ll meet at 7:20 AM in what is referred to as “the old bus lobby” at Thomas Worthington.  From there it looks like I’ll be in Cardinal Band, Modern World History, CCSS English 1, Theatre Arts Survey, Physical Science and Honors Spanish 2.  In reviewing for the day I believe there will be more rigor and stretch than I may be prepared for.

IMG_9370I’m looking forward to the day.  I’m looking forward to getting an in-depth look at our teaching and learning but also a better understanding of how life works in the hallway, cafeteria and in other unstructured times throughout the day.  I’ve got my backpack packed (although I need to admit that I’m planning to hide a thermos of coffee in my backpack.  I’m thinking my coffee requirements may be a challenge while at the high school) and I’ve picked out a Worthington sweatshirt for the day.  I’m going back to high school and Iike most high school students I’m fairly nervous about it.

I plan to live tweet throughout the day so if you follow me on twitter @tbowers3 you’ll get a glimpse of each period of the day.  In addition, I plan to publish a blog later this week with my reflections on the experience.

As Superintendent of Schools I have a unique perspective on the organization. I believe today will enlighten and expand that perspective.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Ohio’s Local Report Card


FullSizeRender (9)Today (2.25.16) the Ohio Department of Education will release the local report cards evaluating school districts based upon their performance on the PARCC and AIR tests our students took last February, April and May.  The local report card has a significant amount of information, but I do not believe it paints a comprehensive or accurate picture for Worthington.

There are many areas where you will see Worthington has succeeded.  We will earn an “A” in both our four and five year graduation rates and an “A” for our students passing the grade level tests.  Unfortunately, it’s in the area we take most seriously, progress, that we have concerns.

The Progress component of the District Report Card is intended to be a measure of student growth on the state assessments.   Over the past several years, we earned all “A’s” in the progress measure.  In addition, as a district we have won awards for being a “high progress” school district.  We take great pride in this measure because our goal is to maximize the potential for each and every student.

When the report card is released later today, Worthington will receive all “F’s” in the Progress component.  This is unfortunate and, I believe, misleading.  Ohio measures progress by comparing student scores from year to year and calculating whether students moved ahead in their ranking, stayed the same, or moved back.  Essentially, a student who scored in the 80th percentile last year on the OAA test should score in the 80th percentile this year to show a year’s worth of growth (a “C” on the Report Card).  What these grades tell us is that Worthington students did not “maintain their place in line” compared to other students across the state of Ohio.  We believe this data is incorrect and have filed an appeal with the Ohio Department of Education.

While the state tests changed its vendor and moved online last year, in Worthington we continued to give all students the NWEA MAP assessment as in years past.  Our internal results on MAP revealed that our students grew last year at a comparable rate to the years we were rated as high progress on the local report card.  Therefore, we believe our students grew at high rates last year and that their growth is not accurately reflected on the local report card.

Finally, we know that excellence in education is much more than one data point or a grade on a report card.  To show this we created our Quality Profile.  Please take a minute and review the value Worthington Schools provides to our community.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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The Quality Profile

 

This week we will mail residents of our school district a copy of our Quality Profile.

For  the  second  consecutive  year we have created this profile as a  more  comprehensive  companion  to  the  state’s  district  report  card.  Called  a  “Quality  Profile,”  the  report  includes  additional  accountability  measures  that  define  a  high  quality  education  and  are  not  captured  by  the  state  report  card.

As investors in our Worthington Schools, I am confident you will be impressed with not only our accomplishments and the value we bring to the Worthington community, but also our commitment to continue moving our school district forward.

Excellence in education must go beyond a data point and a letter grade on a state report card. The Quality Profile helps to characterize the overall educational experience the children in our district receive.

From a great education in the classroom with our high quality teachers, to rigorous and unique academic programs, and to the many activities that help build character and leadership in students, Worthington offers a well-rounded educational experience for students.

I hope you will take a few moments to see exactly how your tax dollars are being used and what kind of a value these resources provide for not only the education of students, but to our community as a whole.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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With Growth Comes Change

Brookside 08Worthington Schools is growing!  An increase in enrollment suggests that families are choosing to move to Worthington which is good news.

With growth in our student population and program offerings, many of our elementary schools are experiencing strains on their space for students and capacity for services. Enrollment projections indicate continued district-wide growth during the next 5-10 years. While all schools can identify space constraints, there are a few schools that have needs that call for immediate actions. For 2016-2017, Evening Street has a critical need for an additional classroom to serve students presently enrolled, and is projected to have the need for an additional classroom each of the next 3-4 years.  Short term adjustments have worked over the past few years to house current students and programs. While short-term adjustments may still address needs in other elementary buildings, they will no longer address the needs at Evening Street.

After considering many options to enable our district to provide for high-quality educational programming for all students, it has been determined that we will relocate all sixth grade classes from Evening Street to Kilbourne Middle School (KMS), making them part of KMS beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.  This move opens three classroom spaces, and allows the district to immediately house an additional classroom for first graders and provides some additional spaces moving forward until a more permanent solution is found.  Ultimately while we believe in our K-6 schools in Worthington and plan to continue them in all other elementary schools, we believe that the configuration of specific grades is not as important as the intentional design of the learning opportunities for students.

Earlier this school year the district conducted a comprehensive audit of our facilities, enrollment projections, and staffing.  With the Evening Street 6th grade move to KMS, the district now has time to fully consider long-term solutions for enrollment, building capacity, and programming district-wide. At the direction of the Board of Education, long-term solutions to these district issues will be determined with community input and consideration of the needs of all buildings.  You will hear more about the master planning work and ways in which you can be involved by early spring.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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Senior Night

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Tonight (2.5.2016) is Senior Night for the Worthington Kilbourne Boys Basketball team.  Senior night in each sport, and on each team, is special.  Each coach has their own way of recognizing the seniors.  At WKHS Coach Tom Souder has always read the following description to the crowd of what it means to play basketball at WKHS.  After reading the description each senior is introduced and is given their one shining moment.  Every year it reminds me of what is good about participation in high school sports and what that participation means today, and for years to come, for those who participate.

A WORTHINGTON KILBOURNE BASKETBALL PLAYER

A Worthington Kilbourne basketball player can come in any size, shape, or color. There is no common denominator except a love for the game and a desire to get the most out of his abilities. He is not only proud of his strengths but understands his weaknesses. He is first of all concerned with the good of his team and knows that individual recognition will come through team excellence.

A Worthington Kilbourne basketball player has the enthusiasm of an evangelist, the discipline of a monk, the heart of a warrior, and never loses the honesty and character of a small boy.

He appreciates the support of fans, but he is much more aware of the example he is setting for some small boy watching from the sideline. He is happy when he scores a basket but never forgets that a teammate threw him the ball. While he never lets up at either end of the floor, the other team is not his real opponent; it is the full extent of his own potential that he is always playing. He lets the referees, with occasional assistance from his coach, do the officiating.

A Worthington Kilbourne basketball player is made and not born. He is constantly striving to reach his potential knowing that he will bypass other players who cannot withstand the strain of his quest for excellence. He realizes that the challenges and competition of today’s game will better prepare him for tomorrow’s world. He knows that the true measure of his performance is not recorded in wins and losses but in how much of himself he has given to the game.

A Worthington Kilbourne basketball player never realizes when the odds are stacked against him. He can only be defeated by a clock that happens to run out of time. He is what a small boy wants to become and what an old man can remember with great pride that he once was.

FOR ALL THAT HAS BEEN, THANKS! FOR ALL THAT WILL BE, YES! #GoWolves!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Groundbreaking Educational Programs

Last week we released our latest video titled “Worthington Schools Groundbreaking Educational Programs.”  The video highlights unique educational options available in Worthington Schools that are not available anywhere else in Ohio or even in the United States.  These choice options, Phoenix Middle School, Linworth Alternative Program and Worthington Academy are critical components to the educational program we provide our community in 2016.

Worthington is a school district that was built on uniqueness and choice.  We like to say we don’t have “cookie cutter” schools and that we value the original and unique communities that are created at each of our schools.  Our programming is not the same at each school but instead it’s designed to meet the unique needs of that school population.

What we do in Worthington is messy.  Choice begins for families with our kindergarten options.  It continues at middle school and explodes once your child reaches high school.  We believe that to engage our students appropriately we must attempt to provide the most possible students with the best possible environment for their learning needs. Unfortunately choice can create stress for our families and while many get their very first choice, it’s impossible to create programming that is both fiscally responsible and provides everyone with their first choice.  Thus, choice is messy.

But…it’s our beautiful mess. It’s who we are in Worthington Schools.  There are many great school districts throughout central Ohio that make certain each school is essentially doing the same thing, in the same environment, with the exact same resources.  They’re doing exceptional work, but in Worthington our philosophy is different.  We’re O.K. if one school offers morning gymnastics and another offers after school archery.  We’re O.K. if one school has an International Baccalaureate program and another school a Business Academy.  We love it when our students access multiple programs to create the perfect day for their needs.  (I recently talked with a mom whose son attends Delaware Area Career Center in the morning, attends Worthington Academy in the afternoon and goes to Thomas Worthington High School for band.  I spoke with another parent whose child attends Linworth for most of her day, takes a class at Worthington Kilbourne and another class at Ohio State.)  This is what school looks like today.  And, while it can be uncomfortable we believe it’s critical that we offer and protect the unique options our students have in Worthington.

If you haven’t taken a few minutes to watch the video, please check it out!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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