When people see the term strategic plan, it often conjurs up an image of some type of mysterious document that is
supposed to help meet some future goal. For most people, the details and purpose of this type of plan are not clear,
and often of questionable value. However, when used well, a strategic plan is what leads to success for everyone in
the district. One way to think about the plan is to envision an orchestra, where the musicians are the students, faculty,
support staff, parents, community members, and so on. What allows them to play in harmony is that everyone has
a sheet of music that clearly outlines their part, and the music the conductor uses is the "master" sheet of music that
displays how all the different parts work together to form a wonderful melody. The strategic plan is the "master" sheet
of music from which everyone's individual parts are drawn. It ensures that there are no wasted notes and that everyone
knows their role in working together as a team to make the concert a smashing success. It is the roadmap that everyone
in the orchestra follows.
Why Is It So Important?
Schools are very complex organizations that have many functions, with people in many different jobs all aimed at helping
our children to be successful in the real world once they graduate. Unlike businesses, we don't get to choose our
customers, and must respond to the needs of every child and family we serve - we don't get to focus on one small group
of people to pay attention to. With that in mind, our goal is that each and every student leaves school with the knowledge
and tools necessary to be a success at work or in further education. Given the diversity of student needs, this is no small
task and requires that everyone focus on what's most important for success, and use the resources provided in the most
efficient and effective way possible. It's the strategic plan that makes this possible.
What Should I know About the Plan?
The plan was developed with input from members of the whole community whose ideas resulted in three major goals to
be achieved over the next five years:
- Enhance Student Achievement
- Optimize Resources and Infrastructure to Support Learning
- Improve External Communications
Each of the goals has measurable objectives (sub-goals) attached to it, along with the strategies (major work activities
and project plans) required to meet those objectives. For example, during the next year each of our five schools has
specific objectives concerning student proficiency. In other words, every student has performance targets that are
measured with regard to how well they are learning math, reading, writing, and science.
It's great to have specific and measurable objectives, but
objectives can't be met without a commitment to engage in
those activities that result in meeting the objectives. These
activities are very specific strategies proven by research and
practice to enhance student performance.
What Are the Strategies that Are Going to Get Us the Results We Need for Student Success?
Let's concentrate on those strategies that are aimed at improving student achievement. The following are essential
practices that have been adopted - or are in the process of being adopted - to improve student proficiency and level of
career and college readiness. They are being implemented at each school.
- Designing a strong core instructional program through the implementation of STAR - the Standardized Test for
Assessment of Reading (and Math) - that will be administered four times a year to evaluate student progress and
to identify the supports needed for every student to be successful.
- Enhancing instruction and learning practices, technology, college and career standards, and meaningful
assessments aimed at improving student engagement in the learning process.
- Capturing through a survey the most critical elements for understanding and elevating student engagement and
ownership for learning, and building those elements into each school's instruction and learning practices.
- Implementing standards/competency-based grading that captures real measures of student proficiency/skills.
- Identifying and implementing what constitutes a 21st century learning environment - which contains strong
technology elements - and implementing them to accelerate student progress and ensure sustainability.
- Implementing a teacher evaluation system aligned with the New Hampshire Department of Education criteria to
enhance teacher performance.
- Implementing an administrator evaluation system aligned with New Hampshire Administrator standards to enhance
- Providing the high school with guidance and support in maintaining NEASC accreditation.
- Creating additional learning opportunities for young children.
You are correct if you came to the conclusion that the strategies are a lot to take on and do well. With that in mind a plan
is in place on how and when to engage and resource the strategies to ensure they can be implemented in a high quality
fashion by staff who have developed the skills to do that well.
How Will We Know if the Plan is Working?
The proof is in the pudding! We will know if it is working if measures of student proficiency rise, and rise more rapidly
than in the past, and the improvement is seen for every group of students, i.e., the regular population, special education,
low socio-economic, and high achieving students. The strategic plan is designed to see that every student benefits. A
summary across all students in each school is presented in the Summary District Dashboard on the following page.
What Can I Do to Make the Plan Successful?
Thanks for asking! Success is guaranteed when everyone in the community gets behind the plan and stays informed
about the teaching and learning activities going on in our schools. Your involvement provides crucial skills, wisdom,
resources, energy and the focus necessary to provide the momentum that will keep our plan on track and moving forward.
Please keep an eye out for ongoing communications about the district and opportunities to become involved in making
Winnisquam students the most successful in New Hampshire!