President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the Law of Life. And those who look only to the past or the present are sure to miss the future.” Highlands administration, teachers, staff and students are looking to the future with the expansion of school programs, pursuit of professional and student developments and preparation for the use of new, advanced technology that will prepare our students for successful academic careers and lives. Listed below are the Highlands School District Goals. At Highlands, we aim to move the Home, School and Community into the future! Please take a moment to review the district goals, and as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions.
1. Student Achievement
At Highlands, the student and student achievement is at the center of everything that we do. Offering universal screenings provides us with the information that we need to offer tiered instruction and interventions to the students as individuals. Ongoing data collection and progress monitoring and the use of research-based and evidenced-based instructional and intervention curriculums, resources, and tools allow us to help our students to achieve to their greatest potential. Some of the key components helping us to meet our goals are:
NorthWest Evaluation Associates (NWEA) and Measure of Academic Progress (MAP): Web-based assessment that is administered three times per year. Based on a true growth model, this assessment gives accurate data to drive instruction.
Compass Learning Odyssey: Live data from MAP is downloaded to create and individual learning path for each student. Elementary and Middle School students access Odyssey to be enriched or remediated at their true ability level. In the Secondary, Compass Learning is more of a course that can be used for credit recovery.
Dibels is a measure of reading fluency utilized in the elementary to guide instruction. Ed Insight is a curriculum mapping software utilized to provide updates to the District curriculum.
2. Safe and Welcoming Learning Environment
Highlands School District is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for our students, our staff, our parents and families, and for our community stakeholders. Through ongoing planning and our safety measures, we continue to be cutting edge when it comes to keeping our students safe.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS): PBIS is endorsed by the PA Department of Education as a highly effective strategy to help the struggling learner. Highlands has fully embraced this concept.
Respectful, Accountable, Motivated and Safe (RAMS): Allows all stakeholders to learn and practice these tenets each and every day. In addition, our Anti-Bully program for K-12 (“Second Step”) frames learning to acknowledge and accept diversity and differences.
Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) training for all building K-12 for the active intruder.
3. Dynamic Curriculum
Curriculum Teams are formed in the specific content areas K-12. Curriculum mapping and gap analysis occurs. Content specialists from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit will be utilized to guide this ongoing process. Math Curriculum will be completed in the 2015-16 school year. These curriculums will be living documents, allowing teachers and staff to access, to utilize, and to update as needed for our student population. Skills sets should be developed that allow for our students to be successful citizens in their post-high school experiences.
4. Professional Development
“One size fits all” is not an effective means to educate and enrich the faculty. We need to meet the individual needs of the staff just as we do with students. Working within a Multi-Tiered System of Support allows our staff to experience and develop skills that will help the effectiveness of their teaching and will foster a culture of learning for all of our students. Professional Development in the 2015-16 school year is differentiated and driven to advance the growth of the teaching staff. Highlands utilizes consultants for staff professional development. Dr. Mitch Nichols works with the High School staff to address the transition from 8th to 9th grade, focusing primarily on the freshman class. Mr. Rich TenEyck is consultant for professional development who works primarily with the administrative team. Mr. TenEyck is a former Department Secretary of Education in New Jersey.
5. Teaching and Learning
The PA Department of Education has provided a new evaluation for teachers. Our goal is to ensure that the teaching staff and administration work collaboratively and utilize the new tool effectively. Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) training will be provided and time will be given to accomplish this task. The Educator Effectiveness Model will be implemented and support will be provided to the teachers as the new evaluation is implemented.
6. Technology Integration
The Highlands Virtual Academy/Technology Committee will focus on a 1:1 initiative for Highlands High School that will be implemented in the 2016-17 school year. The goal is to transform instruction and define what a device can do for instruction before it is purchased. There will be a focus on hybrid learning, which is a combination of on-line and traditional course offerings. The district will be working toward implementing a new student data management system for our staff to utilize as well. Highlands uses the Apple Leadership Team and Questeq in the development and exploration of a 1:1 initiative in the High School. Students also are incorporated into this development.
7. Collaborative Culture
The culture of the Highlands School District must be built on cooperation and collaboration. These two essential elements build trust in the school district for all stakeholders. Additionally, the administrative team and all teachers in the New Teacher Induction Program receive Diversity Training.