Every Bozeman student would have a personalized learning plan and all students would be ready for college or a career by graduation if the school district's proposed goals are met.
Superintendent Kirk Miller presented School Board trustees this week his list of 21 recommended goals for the next three to five years. Goals range from improving learning to making schools safer.
Teachers, principals and administrators will start discussing the recommendations in September. They will craft dozens of action plans by November to move schools toward the goals.
The hope is to improve student learning and keep Bozeman's schools "progressive and innovative," Miller said.
Trustees didn't vote, but informally expressed support for Miller's recommendations. School Board Chair Denise Hayman said she's sure Bozeman's goal-setting process will be copied around the state.
"Your team has done really great work," agreed Trustee Heide Arneson.
The first recommended goal is to create personalized learning plans for each student. Miller said that includes using new data management software, Pearson Inform, to track the academic progress of each child.
Both students and schools could then be judged by whether kids are making progress compared to where they started, rather than by arbitrary targets set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Miller said. The data would also help teachers find strategies to help individual students.
Another recommendation is to keep building partnerships outside of schools. For example, this fall Bozeman High School will offer a new dual-enrollment class in accounting, its third dual-enrollment class with Montana State University. Students can earn both high school and college credit through MSU's Gallatin College Programs.
Getting students ready for college or careers is one goal Bozeman High is already working on. Its biomedical classes have proven popular and are starting their third year. This fall the high school is adding a new course in engineering.
Miller also presented a status report on the "excellent" progress Bozeman's schools made toward last school year's goals.
This year the list is being streamlined to focus on 21 goals or "strategic objectives," less than half of last year's 46.
Last year's goals generated 157 action plans, which ranged from raising math and reading scores at each school, to trying to reduce students' drug and alcohol use.
Parents, community members and folks moving to Bozeman can check out the proposed goals and how well their schools did last year with the click of a mouse. The information is posted on the school district's website, www.bsd7.org, to make the schools' work transparent to the public, Miller said.
If the clicking is easy, the jargon can be daunting. This year the district tried to make terms easier to understand by highlighting jargon in green, which the public can click on to see a definition, though some words seem to require an education degree to decipher.
The elaborate process of setting 20-year goals, three-to-five-year objectives and yearly action plans is all part of a grand strategy Miller started in 2007 called the long range strategic plan.
He compared it to building a cathedral. The long-range plan is intended to help all 750 school employees understand where the schools are heading and how their individual roles fit into the big picture.
The long-range plan has succeeded in getting people to understand that schools need to embrace change, using research-based best practices, to help public schools keep "market share," and "do the right thing for our students," he said.
To see the recommended goals for the coming year online, visit www.bsd7.org and click on "LRSP Implementation Framework 2011-2012." To check out how Bozeman schools did last year, click on "LRSP Annual Report 2010-2011," then "LRSP Status Report Matrix" and click on any X to see reports on each school or department.
Gail Schontzler can be reached at email@example.com or 582-2633.