Infinite Campus, infinite possibilities?

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Caleb Simons, Reporter

The Durango school district has recently refined it’s instructional program to ensure all students are prepared for college, career, and community. Changes are going to be implemented in several ways, over the next few years, according to the school level. These changes are in accordance with the state’s graduation standards, but are a move from standards based grading to competency based grading.

The Durango School District press releases states, “At the heart of the refinements is the belief that ALL learners must be actively engaged and that schools must personalize learning based on each student’s strength and needs, while also ensuring that ALL students meet or exceed proficiency in the district’s graduation standards.”  

The goal of these refinements is that students will take ownership of their learning and drive their educational experience.

The refinements are, in part, a reflection of state assessment across the district’s schools, from elementary to high school. Leanne Garcia, Director of Curriculum and Assessment for the 9R district, has played an integral role in reviewing the district’s instructional program and leading the refinements.

“When we look at student performance data across the district, our students are not meeting our board’s expectations,” said Garcia. “Our goal is that 85% of students to score at or above on state assessment, but what we found is that we have anywhere from 10% to 60%  depending on the content, student population, and grade level.”

Based on this data, Garcia and her staff have begun to review how grading systems work.

“As a system we did some time in my office, and what we did is we started to look at our state and national standards, and we asked what a student needed to do at the end of high school. We looked at the skills that are transferable – skills you will need beyond any point in time,” said Garcia.

9R took this data and based some system reforms on it. The changes involve a switch to a competency-based grading system, a LMS (Learning Management System) to aid the process, and a shifting focus on skills and cognitive ability in students.

This year, teachers are reflecting on their courses, instruction, and assessments to ensure that they are aligned with the district’s Graduation Standards and Performance Indicators.

The district has focused on the way students are evaluated. That focus is the impetus behind the the competency based learning system that the district plans to implement.

In addition, teachers need a standardized platform to present their material to the class. Sasha Creeden, a teacher at DHS, has worked on the search for this platform.

“The system we’re looking at would give all teachers the same platform, with a grade book integrated,” says Creeden.

Creeden says that a new LMS would be designed to give students and teachers the platform they need to work through curriculum, as well as a gradebook. In addition, the new LMS would serve as a class website so that students would be able to access material for all their classes from one consolidated platform.

“As a student, you would log on and have all your grades, as well as all the material for those classes,” said Creeden. “If you need to watch a video before chemistry before the lesson the next day, it will be on there, along with, say, your language arts homework.”

Though Durango’s 9R school district has yet to finalize these proposals, they plan on implementing the best possible changes, in hopes of refining and advancing the learning opportunities for all Durango students.