NPS Transformation Initiative Continues as a Component of the NPS Strategic Plan

On March 19, 2014, Superintendent Samuel T. King provided the School Board with an updated, expanded Transformation Initiative that is one component of the NPS Strategic Plan, and is designed to improve student achievement by transforming school culture.

The School Board approved the Transformation Initiative, congratulating Dr. King and the NPS team for the strong, research-based approach.

The updated, expanded Transformation Initiative incorporates Dr. King’s recommendations for implementing the results of a recently concluded Educational Facilities Planning Study, and will dramatically increase families’ choices for high-quality, diverse learning opportunities across the division.

 “The Transformation Initiative has progressed to include many important strategies we must take on the path to improving student achievement by transforming school culture across the school division,” Dr. King said. “This Initiative advances our five-year Strategic Plan, which is the guiding plan for our school division. It embraces the courage to advocate for the needs of all students, and invests in our communities and families with strong leadership teams, shared responsibility, personalized learning and access to rich and rewarding experiences.”

The School Board approved the NPS five-year Strategic Plan in July 2013, and the plan is in Phase 1, Year 1 of implementation. The vision of the Strategic Plan is that NPS will become the cornerstone of a proudly diverse community, and the Transformation Initiative is one component that will help achieve the vision.

Dr. King emphasized to the School Board that the Transformation Initiative continues to evolve as planning unfolds, and further modifications could occur with the needs of students as the primary focus.

Transformation Initiative plans include:

 

  • - Updating the school division’s “feeder patterns,” in which elementary schools “feed into” assigned middle schools. Currently, elementary schools may send their rising sixth-graders to multiple middle schools. Realigning these patterns will be aimed at beginning the process for creating more socioeconomic diversity at the middle school level, and will provide an opportunity for fifth-grade students to travel as cohorts to their respective middle schools, reducing the anxiety exhibited by many rising sixth-graders.  The Board approved Dr. King's recommendation that this realignment be thoroughly planned with community engagement during 2014-2015, and then implemented for the 2015-2016 school year.
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  • - Reconfiguring the grade levels served at six elementary schools. Fairlawn and Poplar Halls elementary schools will be paired; Poplar Halls Elementary will serve PreK-2, and Fairlawn Elementary will serve grades 3-5. P.B. Young, Sr., and Tidewater Park elementary schools will be paired, with P.B. Young, Sr., serving grades PreK-2 and Tidewater Park serving grades 3-5. The division plans for these reconfigurations to occur for 2014-2015. A pairing of Lindenwood and Jacox elementary schools, in which Lindenwood will serve grades 3-5 and Jacox will serve PreK-2, will be planned for implementation in 2015-2016. The Prek-2 grade configuration is designed to allow a laser-like focus on literacy, language acquisition and vocabulary development – the “learning to read” skills. The grades 3-5 configuration focuses on effective transition of students to “reading to learn” skills.
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  • - Promoting division-wide opportunities for families to choose high-quality programs by providing an available number of open seats at the new Broad Creek-area school (now Richard Bowling), Ocean View and Larchmont elementary schools, after students who live in those attendance zones are enrolled, and when those aged school buildings are rebuilt under current school construction plans underway with the City of Norfolk. The choice seats, depending upon how many are available after the enrollment of students who live in those zones, would be filled via lottery. Broad Creek/Richard Bowling is planned to focus on Primary Years International Baccalaureate, which is designed for children ages 3 to 12 and focuses on the development of the whole child in six identified areas: language, mathematics, science, social studies, arts, personal/social and physical education. Ocean View Elementary is a maritime theme school with a focus on service learning.  With an eye toward restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, Ocean View works with both the Elizabeth River Project and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on projects that both improve the Ocean View community where our students live and help in efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. All of the maritime service learning activities are designed to link to and support the Virginia Standards of Learning across the curriculum, especially in science. Larchmont Elementary could take on a new pre-medical theme, which would add to the continuity for students who move on to Blair Middle and Maury High school similar themes. This would allow Norfolk Public Schools to explore and potentially expand its strong partnership with Eastern Virginia Medical School. Community and staff engagement will occur at Larchmont to further discuss the theme opportunity.
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  • - Consolidating Willoughby Elementary into the new Ocean View Elementary when that construction project is complete. Willoughby’s building could become a new pre-kindergarten center, to align with NPS’ plans to expand pre-kindergarten opportunities citywide.
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  • - Closing Lafayette-Winona Middle School for 2014-2015, with planning to occur to repurpose and reopen the building as a new division-wide choice school serving elementary and middle school grades. When re-opened as a choice school, access to this building, due to its central location, will be beneficial in the efforts of the division to create a diverse city-wide school, reflective of the City of Norfolk. 
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  • - Continuing to plan and market a new comprehensive Career and Technical Education high school to be constructed on the current site of Lake Taylor High School. The school is a collaborative initiative between NPS and the Greater Norfolk Corporation.  A high-quality, comprehensive full-time career/technical high school blends rigorous academic studies with equally demanding career/technical education studies and creates career pathways/programs of study designed to help students apply academic knowledge and skills to current and projected employment. 
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  • - Rebuilding Campostella Elementary School as a school serving kindergarten through grade 8 with a focus on STEM/swim - science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction, along with swimming instruction in a collaborative effort with Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Recreation, Parks & Open Space to utilize the newly constructed Southside Aquatic Center.
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  • - Continuing plans to open a new Open Campus Academy, which will be an innovative program designed to serve students who need a non-traditional way to complete their high school education and become college and career ready. Open Campus Academy is planned to operate year-round in a leased facility on Little Creek Road, in partnership with EdisonLearning and Magic Johnson Bridgescape. Students will follow a flexible, individualized e-learning program. A proposal has been submitted to the Virginia Department of Education requesting that the Virginia Board of Education allow the Open Campus program to operate year-round instead of on the traditional, state-mandated, post-Labor Day school calendar.
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  • - Continuing plans for all schools in the NPS Transformation Initiative to have new instructional themes, such as Montessori Concept, Pre-International Baccalaureate and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

 

Superintendent Samuel T. King introduced the NPS Transformation Initiative in June 2013, as a way to advance NPS’ new five-year Strategic Plan, increase student academic achievement and move the division toward full accreditation for all schools. Dr. King originally proposed the Initiative for 10 NPS schools and the new Open Campus Academy. An Educational Facilities Planning Study, along with extensive, ongoing dialogue with the School Board and stakeholders, have provided information and support for expanding the Initiative.

“The vision of our five-year Strategic Plan is that Norfolk Public Schools will become the cornerstone of our proudly diverse community,” said Dr. King. “In order to achieve that vision, we must transform the school division, and the Transformation Initiative helps us move in that direction. We must increase the percentage of students who are meeting and exceeding standards, and increase opportunities for students and families to choose innovative programs that will meet their interests and learning needs.”

Dr. King emphasized to the Board that all Norfolk Public Schools students, across all student subgroups in every school, must be exposed to high expectations, and that there must be no barriers for any child. All must be exposed to rigorous course work, safety-net support for students who struggle, enrichment for students who exceed standards, highly effective teachers in each classroom and highly effective school-level leadership.

The NPS Cycle for Results has been infused throughout the entire school division. The cycle is a six-step process for ensuring highly effective classroom instruction:

 

           Step 1 requires individual school- and system-level pre-analysis of relevant data aligned to state and national standards.  The results of this analysis allow teachers to develop a customized approach for each student, requiring the highest expectations to move the student from the status quo forward. This happens regardless of the student’s economic status, ethnic background or limited English proficiency. 

          Step 2 consists of the delivery of rigorous, standards-based instruction for all students.  Research is clear about the correlation between exposure to rigorous course work and success beyond high school. 

           Steps 3 and 4 require frequent formative assessments aligned to standards and an ongoing analysis of the results to check for mastery of student skills. These formative assessments are conducted in various forms, from common teacher-made, standards-based assessments, student projects, and system-wide benchmark assessments, to common, standards-based finals. The results of these assessments are analyzed to determine which students need additional support via safety-net intervention, which students are on target and which students are exceeding the standard and need enrichment.           

            Step 5 consists of the delivery of safety-net and/or enrichment implementation aligned to the student’s area of deficiency or to the student’s area of exceptional achievement of the standards.  The student receives customized intervention aligned with standards-based results, while instructional leaders also analyze these results to determine implications for teacher effectiveness. Education Trust research reiterates that teacher effectiveness and quality is one of the most important indicators affecting student achievement.  Therefore during step 5, we also link student achievement results to teacher effectiveness. This allows us to determine if teachers need professional development centering on subject matter knowledge, classroom management, pedagogy and/or instructional techniques. In other words, support and ongoing training must be continuously provided for the classroom teacher. As a result, we will increase teacher effectiveness and quality.            

         Step 6 calls for a check of student mastery of relevant standards after student and teacher interventions are applied. Once this process is complete, the cycle repeats itself.

 

All schools, including Transformation Initiative schools, are expected to embrace the Cycle for Results and the NPS Strategic Plan.

Click here to see the Transformation Initiative plans.

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