LVUSD and CHS revise educational improvement plan

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LVUSD and CHS have teamed up to improve the district-wide educational achievement plans to help students receive the best possible schooling.

CHS works to improve standardized test scores

Cydney Hayes – Staff Writer

Analysis of the 2011-2012 California Standards Test reveals that some subgroups of the Las Virgenes Unified School District students are not performing at state-mandated levels. Consequently, LVUSD is revising several written plans to help address gaps in student achievement.  The Local Education Agency Plan (LEAP) is a set of goals developed by the district as a whole to address general academic issues. The LEAP will be officially updated in January 2013. The School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) is a more specific set of goals developed by each individual school to address the particular academic needs of its students.  CHS is using a set of SMART goals as the foundation for the improved SPSA.

“[The revisions] each year are a little different, but we always have the SMART goals, meaning they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound,” said Assistant Principal Brian Mercer. “To help each student as best we can, we narrow down the SMART goals each year mainly based on CST results to better specific academic departments’ needs.”

CHS uses the SMART goals to target individual areas of improvement.  For the 2012–2013 school year, some of the SMART goals include increasing the number of freshmen and sophomores scoring proficient or advanced in math on the CST test, decreasing the number of students with D’s or F’s through mandated support and improving general academic achievement through programs like Math Honors Society and National Honor Society.

Through the SMART goals, LVUSD and CHS hopes to make improvements  to the LEAP for some subgroups of students who had declining test scores on the 2011-2012 CST. The new goals include improving general test scores, grade point averages, academic confidence and overall scholastic achievement.

“The last LEAP for the district is from 2003, so obviously those goals are not applicable now,” said LVUSD Assistant Superintendent Mary Schillinger.  “However, regardless of the year, LEAP is always focused on increasing student achievement.”

The SPSA will be revised by a committee of parents and school officials specifically from CHS. Through careful analysis of the most recent data involving CST and other aspects of student performance, this committee will create a plan directed at particular areas of weakness among CHS students.

LVUSD officials hope that the revisions will affect other aspects of student life. By encouraging scholastic success, students are expected to improve in athletic ability, social confidence and self-esteem. The new SPSA and LEAP goals are intended to create a better school environment for students of all grade levels.

District promotes inverted classroom method

Peyton Herzog – Staff Writer

The Las Virgenes Unified School District is introducing a new teaching technique, known as the inverted classroom, that will alter the learning process for students.  The Inverted Classroom Method, sometimes referred to as flipped classrooms, is a relatively new concept in education that reverses classwork and homework roles.  Using the Kahn Academy, a YouTube channel that consists of a variety of videos outlining concepts of all core subjects, students learn the material for their classes at home. When the students come to class, they should be prepared for in-class discussions and labs.

Students participating in these inverted classrooms are able to pause and rewind content when they are unclear of any information, allowing students to learn at their own pace.  The lesson is then discussed in class the next day and classwork is handed out and completed during the class period.

“The inverted teaching method has saved me time in class, and I believe it has made a difference in how I help my students,” said Advanced Placement Physics teacher Ryan Bergstrom.  “The more I can do to increase class time working on an objective, the better a student will do, and hopefully that will translate not only into a better grade but also into a better grasp of the subject.”

Although the inverted classroom style is currently only instituted in AP Physics, many other teachers are experimenting with the method.

There are mixed reviews from students regarding inverted teaching methods.  Some students enjoy them because with more available class time, they can take advantage of labs, more practice problems and homework review.

“Even though the online notes can sometimes be confusing, the teacher always answers my questions in class,“ said senior Jeffrey Borland. “Instead of just taking notes in the class, we get to practice and review with problems and labs.  We learn the concepts at home at our own speed.”
Other students describe inverted classrooms as impersonal and inefficient.  These students have struggled with the classes because they are unable to adjust to this new method.

“The inverted method does not allow students to ask their teacher questions while learning the lesson,” said senior Allie Wayne.  “Students are forced to take notes on a topic they hardly understand.  I think it is important that teachers use the regular teaching style so they understand where their students are struggling.“

Teachers in LVUSD and in other districts are beginning to experiment with the inverted classroom.  LVUSD will continue to develop and expand the program over the next several years.

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