March 17: Continuous Improvement

Spotlight on Schools: Continuous Improvement

Hello, Black River Falls Community, this is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools! This week I’d like to highlight the commitment that we make to continuous improvement. We have a saying within the district that “Feedback is a gift, a gift you give someone when you respect them and want them to get better at what they do.” If you have a child in the district you were sent a feedback survey in early March. We have crafted questions for our families, students, and staff. Each of these surveys inform the goals and action plans that align with our strategic plan. We fully recognize how busy everyone is, but we cannot move forward unless we align our goals to the perceptions of those that we serve. The feedback we get is invaluable! As an aside, the Community Engagement Committee of the board has agreed that we will survey the greater community once every three years. Your turn will be coming in February of 2017-2018!

So what do we do with all of these gifts? Each building has a leadership team that is comprised of their principal and teacher leaders from all areas of expertise within the building. We typically schedule a full day in the spring for each of these teams to work with myself, and Stephanie Brueggen, our Director of Curriculum & Instruction, to look at our perception data by building and collated by District. We then compare that data to the previous year’s survey data. We look for themes that arise and have great conversations about what systems we can put in place to improve our data for the coming year. Each building sets a Student Success goal in the area of reading and math. They also set a Community Engagement goal, and often a goal related to their building climate which includes the Tiger Way and other student perceptions.

Identifying the goals is the first step, the hard work comes when they begin action planning what the adults in the school are going to do to ensure they reach their goal at the end of the year.

Throughout the year these leadership teams review their goals and action plans. They hold each other accountable for making the changes that they set out to make, and measure their progress along the way. We have seen some great things accomplished through this continuous improvement cycle. You’ve likely heard the quote that the only thing that is constant, is that things are going to change. I’m a firm believer in the concept that if you continue to do things exactly as you’ve always done them, you’re going to continue to get the exact same results. Expecting anything different is foolishness! If we want to see different outcomes, we’ve got to be willing to adjust our personal behavior and create systems to ensure it happens for all students.

Each building provides reports to the board throughout the year and keeps them apprised of their goals and data that measures their progress along the way.

If you took the time to provide us with the gift of your feedback through the survey, we appreciate it! If at ANY time you have feedback, I’m always open and would love to hear from you!

In keeping with our routine this year, I’d like to share another quote from American Education Week. We asked staff “Why the School District of Black River Falls was the right fit for them?” High school math teacher, Mr. Jared Plaza had this to say: I knew that BRF was right for me since day 1. The staff welcomed me even though I was the “new guy” last year. The school is big enough to have a ton of opportunity, yet small enough to where the staff and students feel like a family and you get to know everyone.”

Don’t forget that if you’d like to listen to the board discussion surrounding our budget recommendation, that meeting takes place next Monday, March 20. 6:00 pm at the District Office.

As always, if you have any questions about this, or anything else within the District, don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you so much for your support of the School District of Black River Falls! Go Tigers!


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