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2014

From Good to Great!

A Partnership of Fort Polk Progress, Vernon Parish Schools, and JRTC & Fort Polk 4/15/2014

Moving Education from Good to Great!


The Education Initiative What is it?
The Education Initiative is a partnership effort of Fort Polk Progress, Vernon Parish Schools and JRTC & Fort Polk. It is made up of stakeholders representing the military, the school district and higher education. The Initiative is further supported by education experts at the local, State, and National level. The Initiative builds on current successes in Vernon Parish Schools and plans for continued excellence. The Education Initiative was formed with three goals: 1. To improve school performance and move Vernon Parish Schools from Good to Great 2. To educate parents about Common Core State Standards and how they can support their child, and 3. To benchmark Vernon Parish Schools against the national average and school districts that support other major Army installations. While the Vernon Parish schools are good, they also have challenges that is why the education initiative was formed. The Initiative brings educators, parents, and the community together to identify challenges and develop an action plan with measurable goals that will move our schools from good to great! The implementation of the action plan will be governed by Fort Polk Progress who will oversee assignment of actions and track progress. The action plan is long-term and will be revised annually. Results will be reported back to the community through an annual report.

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The Education Initiative Success Takes Time


The foundation for the Education Initiative began in 2007 with the Louisiana Communities and Military Partnership Summit and Visions for Vernon Strategic Plan. Within the Visions for Vernon Plan the Education Committee outlined the following actions: 1. Leesville High School renovations - site, funding, design, etc.; 2. Increase to 120 the number of students enrolled in dual credit classes at local universities, online and at the technical college; 3. Prepare a needs assessment of military students of deployed parents to determine social, emotional, and educational needs; and 4. Prepare a Vernon Parish School Replacement/Construction Plan. Vernon Parish School District has demonstrated its commitment to the Plan, its students, and especially the military child, in a very tangible way by securing more than $40 million for not just one, but two new schools: Leesville High School and South Polk Elementary, which serve the largest military populations in the parish. Funding sources included over $20 Million in local Bonds and an $18 Million Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) Grant. Additionally, Dual enrollment has increased to _______ and the Needs Assessment was prepared and recommendations implemented in _________. In February 2009, JRTC and Fort Polk included an education objective in its Community Campaign Plan and actively began working with the community through Fort Polk Progress to achieve the actions in support of the objective. The following was extracted from the Community Campaign Plan: Objective: To improve public school facility infrastructure and raise the standards of educational achievement. Means: Infrastructure school tax base is generated through property taxes and ad valorem sales taxes. Fort Polk occupies a large area of Vernon Parish, reducing the tax base needed to construct new facilities. The Army provides approximately $7M of Impact Aid to Vernon Parish School System annually; however this is not enough to make up for the lost tax revenues. A new State-of-theArt School will provide the focus needed by Vernon Parish and the State of Louisiana to attract new business to the area and improve the image for attracting Army Families. Estimated cost of the school is $48M. $28M can be raised through local bonding authority. School Superintendent Jackie Self has submitted a plan to the State (Feb 09) for consideration of supplemental funding. This plan will also be submitted to the Chief of Staff of the Army (Mar 09) and the Congressional Delegation. South Polk Elementary Poor learning environment identified as an Army Family Action Plan issue South Polk Elementary has an out-dated design (open forum, no interior walls). School 3|Page

Superintendent Jackie Self has submitted a plan requesting $2.1M to the State (Feb 09) for consideration of funding to remediate this issue, external assistance is needed. Higher Standards - Vernon Parish has a unique opportunity to attract business growth from the Army and related defense contractors and supporting civilians. Quality education is viewed as a necessary ingredient to stimulate economic growth and to provide an educated workforce. Vernon Parish Schools should compete for upper third of national academic achievement performance ratings. In November 2013 a community group lead by the City of Leesville and the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce developed the Louisiana Development Ready Community (LDRC) Strategic Plan Lets Grow Vernon! A significant portion of the plan was focused on Education. The following was extracted from the Lets Grow Vernon! LDRC Strategic Plan: Quality schools are the foundation for any successful community. Leesville/Vernon is no exception. The good news is that, based on standardized tests and metrics developed by the State of Louisiana, Leesville/Vernon has among the best schools in the state. The challenging news is that being among the best in Louisiana is still less than excellent. Leesville/Vernon has two challenges in continuing to raise the level of education for its residents. The first is intangibleParental support and involvement is extremely important. The second is programmatictoo many students are graduating without a path to either college or skill development. To address these issues, the Steering Committee has adopted the following: Education Goal 1: Improve the perception of Leesville/Vernon schools and engage more parents in the education system through improved communication, telling success stories and asking for more involvement of the community in decision-making regarding schools. Education Goal 2: Work to implement Work-Keys or similar skill measurement programs in Vernon Parish schools. Work-Keys is required in the Louisiana Technical College system investigate opportunities to partner with LTC. Education Goal 3: Create a public campaign to support skilled technical education and career opportunities with parents, emphasizing the pay and other benefits, and both current and future opportunities in targeted industries. Responsible Parties: The LDRC Education and Workforce Committee, Vernon Parish School Board, Northwestern State University, and Louisiana Technical College. Education Short-Term Measurable Outcomes: 10% increase in parental involvement in Vernon Parish schools, and development of a Work-Keys based assessment program in partnership with LTC by September, 2014. Education Long-Term Measurable Outcomes: 20% increase in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes in Vernon Parish Schools; additional 15% of students going on to 4|Page

Work-Keys based technical training for highly-skilled positions in Leesville/Vernon Parish targeted industries, and 15% increase in enrollment in highly skilled technical programs with NSU and LTC by September 2016. On 27 March 2014 about 700 educators, Soldiers and family members congregated at Fort Polk's Bayou Theater to attend an Education Symposium spearheaded by Fort Polk Progress. The Education Symposium was developed as part of the larger Education Initiative, a partnership among Fort Polk Progress, the Vernon Parish School District and Fort Polk, to acknowledge the achievements of the Vernon Parish schools and prepare for future educational challenges. Presenters at the event included Paul Sawyer, with Louisiana Economic Development; Dr. Kelly Laster, Louisiana Department of Education; the Rapides Foundation; and Dr. Ben Martindale. Keynote speaker was Jamie Vollmer, an award-winning advocate of public education who speaks at schools nationwide. Vollmer stressed that today's school system is based on a model created by Thomas Jefferson around 1781. "I'm here to tell you, it's got to change. Things cannot stay the same as they have been for decades. America needs great public schools now more than ever and that's going to take the entire community, not just those who have children in school. For example, when a community comes together and works to increase a student's success, the crime rate in that community falls. When a community like Vernon Parish bands together to ensure that each child gets a decent education, property values go up. Life gets better when local schools improve. We are all tied into this in a way that many people don't see. In a community like Vernon Parish -- where your schools are moving forward -- you have momentum. If you take advantage of that momentum, you could create not only the best schools in Louisiana, but the best schools in the world," Vollmer said. Keeping the momentum going is an objective of the Education Initiative. And finally, Vernon Parish Schools have actively incorporated a successful strategy to improve education. Here are a few facts to demonstrate this: The District has continuously improved its performance score since 2000 moving from #19 in the State to # 4 in 2013. All 19 schools in Vernon Parish received either an A or B grade during the 2012-13 academic school year. Performance scores from LEAP, End of Course and other exams show Vernon Parish students are above the national average. Eighty-two percent of the districts third through eighth graders performed at or above basic levels, significantly higher than the state average of sixty-nine percent Louisiana, which requires every student to take the ACT, has an average score of 19.5, while the average U.S. score is 20.9. Vernon Parish students, including those who have no intention of attending college, have an average score of 19.4. Two Vernon Parish schools logged ACT scores in the top twenty of the state in 2013. Anacoco High School has the 9th highest Act score (24.2) in the state, while Rosepine High School has the 20th highest score (21.2). While the performance of Central Louisiana schools as a whole falls in line with the states performance, Vernon Parish Schools literally soar above the pack, with 10-or-more-point leads in English and Math scores on the LEAP tests at both fourth and eighth grade levels.

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The Education Initiative Model

An Education Initiative model has been developed which contains the following four components: First and foremost This is a community driven process built on established partnerships. The partnerships began forming in 2005 and solidified in 2007 with the Louisiana Communities and Military Partnership Summit and Visions for Vernon Strategic Plan, which resulted in funding the Leesville HS renovations and the establishment of Fort Polk Progress. Working together, Fort Polk Progress and its partners invested millions of dollars to support Fort Polk to include constructing a new Elementary School at Fort Polk, 4-laning highways in support of military convoy routes; $25 million in infrastructure improvements outside the gate of Fort Polk and the list goes on. This isnt a short term reaction to down-sizing. For the Education Initiative, the partnership was expanded to include new stakeholders the School District, the State Department of Education, State University, and most significantly Parents. It takes all of these partners working together. Not one entity on its own can achieve success without the support of the other. Next this isnt a passive partnership. Fort Polk Progress has set out to engage the Stakeholders. The Education Initiative had a formal kick-off on 8 January with a strategic planning session attended by the 6|Page

key stakeholders, each pledging their full support. But the real heart of the Initiative is the Parents. Tremendous effort has gone into getting the voice of the military child from parent surveys and engaging Families through a multitude of forums. The input from the Families was used to identify topics for the Education Symposium held on 27 March 14. The Symposium featured discussions on education rankings, common core state standards, tools and technology to support Teachers, Parents and Students as well as an afternoon Parent University with hands on learning from subject matter experts on topics like Common Core. Through the Education Initiative a Strategic Action Plan has been developed. The implementation of the action plan is governed by Fort Polk Progress who will oversee assignment of actions and track progress. And most significantly it takes commitment. Vernon Parish Schools are good and they have demonstrated through performance scores that they are driven to be better. Since 2000, they have consistently improved their performance from 19th in the State to 4th in the State in 2013! Furthermore, all 19 schools in Vernon Parish received either an A or B grade during the 2012-13 academic school year. Its also noteworthy, that there is a strong support from the Louisiana Congressional Delegation and the Governors Office. It has been that support that has financed many of Fort Polk Progress initiatives. The continued support of the Governors office to Fort Polk, and specifically to the Education Initiative, was shown through assignment of a representative from both Louisiana Department of Education and Louisiana Economic Development to the Education Initiative.

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The Education Initiative Action Plan


The Education Initiative Action Plan has been compiled from plans sited previously and the Vernon Parish District Improvement Plan (Appendix A) as well as actions developed with input from the public through the Parents Survey (Appendix B), the Education Symposium, and public input received during the month long comment period following the Symposium. The Education Initiative Goals are: 1. To improve school performance and move Vernon Parish Schools from Good to Great 2. To educate parents about Common Core State Standards and how they can support their child, and 3. To benchmark Vernon Parish Schools against the national average and school districts that support other major Army installations. To achieve the goals requires actions beyond the local level. This Action Plan comprehensively addresses education issues and concerns in Vernon Parish while expanding the initiative to partners at the State and Federal level. The Action Plan targets four Focus Areas. They are: 1. 2. 3. 4. Quality Education Communication Programs & Opportunities Facilities

Within each Focus Area, actions have been compiled from other published plans or created in this document for further development and discussion.

Quality Education
I. Improve Student Learning A. Integrate the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in all teaching and learning activities a. Implement a rigorous curriculum aligned to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) b. Improve planning and instruction c. Implement Weekly Professional Learning Community meetings (PLCs) for collaboration around Instruction and learning d. Develop and implement lessons that align to CCSS e. Provide professional development opportunities for teachers and support staff to enhance powerful instruction for all students B. Annually increase student achievement by 2% in ELA and Math proficiency for students in grades 3 8 8|Page

C. Annually increase student proficiency on the ACT and EOC by 4% for Vernon Parish students in grades 9-12 D. Annually increase graduation rates by 2% a. Collaboration around instruction and learning for Headstart and LA-4 district PLC meetings b. Implement district transition plan Pre-K to Kindergarten (What is the transition plan?) c. Provide Response to Intervention and Remedial/tutoring programs d. Continue to implement and support PBIS Positive Behavior Support school-wide plans e. Increase Carnegie unit offerings in middle and high school (by how much annually?) E. Support continuous development of all school personnel F. Collaborate with Vernon Parish partners to make Vernon Parish a premier place for principals and teachers to work

Communication
A. Become Parent and Family Centered a. Actively reach out to parents to involve them in their childrens schools, including the launch of a School Advisory Council in every school b. Establish clear processes for parent and family input and ideas c. Provide parents with information about their students progress and how to support that progress d. Provide parents and families with excellent customer service i. Follow-up with parents who provided comments at the Education Symposium ii. Develop a database of attendees to the Symposium to provide continuous updates on education actions and opportunities e. Provide parents with ample information on schools i. Develop a matrix of information on all schools in Vernon Parish to better inform parents of individual school academic and extracurricular offerings ii. Develop information sheet for each school which identifies educational opportunities, registration requirements, instructional courses, and extracurricular activities offered by the school. Information sheet should be available via the web. iii. Educate faculty, staff, parents, and children regarding services provided by the Military Family Life Consultant (MFLC) for short term, situational, problem solving counseling for issues amenable to short-term problem resolution such as school adjustment issues, deployment and reunion adjustments, and parentchild communications. iv. Research, develop, and implement programs and practices that will support military students and families in Vernon Parish schools (MFLC) Promote quality of education offered in Vernon Parish Schools 9|Page

B.

C. D. E.

F.

a. Develop method for comparison of VP Schools to National Level and other schools that support military installations b. Continuously educate stakeholders, State and Federal agencies, and Army leadership c. Examine criteria used for ranking LA schools and work to change or align with criteria d. Improve the perception of Leesville/Vernon schools and engage more parents in the education system through improved communication, telling success stories and asking for more involvement of the community in decision-making regarding schools. Cultivate and sustain partnerships at the Parish, State and Federal levels Provide support to parents to educate them regarding CCSS a. Develop and implement an ongoing parent tutoring program after school Create a public campaign to support skilled technical education and career opportunities with parents, emphasizing the pay and other benefits, and both current and future opportunities in targeted industries. Annually review, revise, and report success and status of action plan items to stakeholders.

Programs & Opportunities


A. B. C. D. E. Work to implement Work-Keys or similar skill measurement programs in Vernon Parish schools. Investigate opportunities to partner with LTC. Develop and implement Adopt-a-School Program to provide academic assistance to schools such as tutoring. Seek legislative approval for an exception to policy for the 2-year residency requirement for military/DOD students. Expand enrollment in Dual Enrollment/Advanced Placement Courses by 5% annually a. Develop and implement pre- Advanced Placement classes to improve student scores on Advanced Placement tests. Seek funding to increase participation in LA-4 to make available for all 4-year olds. a. Develop a plan for location of students and estimate costs to fully implement the program 20% increase in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes in Vernon Parish Schools over the next five years. Develop opportunities for continued learning through summer camps and other education focused venues. a. Develop and implement Education Discovery camps b. Incorporate Common Core methodology in all Fort Polk CYS educational programs

F.

G. H.

Facilities
A. B. C. D. Provide students with an environment conducive to learning Implement and maintain safety and climate plans that incorporate evidence-based programs Provide a clean and comfortable building environment in all schools Assess all school facility infrastructure and develop a prioritized plan for capital replacement or renovation E. Review equipment and technological needs in each school and develop a plan for acquisition 10 | P a g e

Summary
As with all plans, this plan is meant to be flexible and evolve with time. As actions are accomplished new actions will be identified. No one partner will be responsible for all actions. The success of the Plan is dependent on the continued partnership and spirit of cooperation which has developed through this initiative. Additionally, implementation of the plan will take time. It is recognized that financial resources may be scarce; however the plan was not constrained by these potential limitations. Instead, by documenting all unconstrained actions, all possible funding sources can be explored and pursued.

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