Wake County Schools

Proposed WCPSS strategic plan to change student learning

Posted January 6, 2015

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— Wake school leaders are finalizing a five-year strategic plan that would change how students learn in the Wake County Public School System.

“A lot more student work, where the teacher is a guide and facilitator,” Superintendent Jim Merrill said.

School board members discussed the plan during a Tuesday afternoon work session.

The document focuses on educating students that are prepared for a “complex and changing world” and that are “collaborative, creative and critical thinkers.” It also sets a district goal to annually graduate at least 95 percent of students that are “ready for higher education, career and productive citizenship.”

The district’s four-year cohort graduation rate was 81 percent last year.

"The exciting part of this, really restructuring education in Wake County,” said Christine Kushner, board chairwoman. "Students do not know what they will be doing in 10, 20 years. They may be in jobs that have not been created yet."

But Merrill said employers are clear on what students will need to know.

"It's the ability to identify problems, ask the right questions and come up with solutions,” he said.

The draft document comes after months of the district soliciting public input through stakeholder focus groups, town hall meetings and an online survey where nearly 10,000 people shared their thoughts on the state’s largest school district.

Some of the suggestions were incorporated into the plan’s five pillars: Learning & Teaching, Achievement, Balanced Assessment System, Human Capital and Community Engagement.

But the document does not directly address one of the biggest concerns from stakeholders – teacher pay. More than 600 teachers left Wake schools between July 2013 and April, in part due to pay, according to the district.

Under the draft plan, student learning would be measured in new ways under a challenging curriculum, which school officials hope will close achievement gaps. District leaders said K-12 education has moved in this direction – now, they say, teachers will have a road map.

"It is a more exciting, and perhaps more correct way, better aligned to the future needs kids have," Merrill said.

Board members will vote on the plan later this month.


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  • theliberadicator Jan 7, 2015

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    What's "new" about them? The liberal nuts you have now, like all the ones that came before them, have been running their schools into the ground for decades. Teachers never speak out against them. It's how they keep their jobs.

  • Janet Clarke Jan 7, 2015
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    Yup, that's exactly what I meant. How do you solve a problem when you don't have the background skills to know how to do it? Kids teaching kids did not work for my daughter's Common Core math class.

  • Chris Perry Jan 7, 2015
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    Learning problem solving skills is a way of being analytical, of having actually learned concepts and how they interact, instead of rote memorization of the right answer with no idea why that's the right answer.

    Their is a problem with what you stated. What if the learned concepts are never actually taught so the student can learn them. If this is the case then how can you expect a student that has never actually been taught the concepts to use them to problem solve. There has to be a basis of educations. Fundamentals have to be taught and in place if you ever expect a student to problem solve. Problem solving can be taught as well.

  • thomasew52 Jan 7, 2015

    I have all the confidence in the world that the new school board will remedy all this, and step right up to take credit for it. Going to be interesting when the teachers decide to turn against the "new" school board, and it will happen, mark my word.

  • itlsss Jan 7, 2015

    I missed the behavior "pillar".

  • wjcspanteach Jan 7, 2015

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    PRECISELY! Thank you!

  • Mark Neill Jan 7, 2015
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    No, they can't "work on problem solving later when they're older and know the fundamentals" - we're not talking about math problems, we're talking about problem in its non-math definition, of having a current or desired outcome, and the steps required to reach that outcome.

    Being able to "see", understand, and solve problems isn't something you are taught, it's a way of onserving a condition, of having been taught about how concepts relate to each other, and how changing something along the path of a chain of events causes a change in the end result. Learning problem solving skills is a way of being analytical, of having actually learned concepts and how they interact, instead of rote memorization of the right answer with no idea why that's the right answer.

  • NiceNSmooth Jan 7, 2015

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    being that you find this rate "disgusting" then please reach out to your area's school board member to divert some of your area's funding to East Wake County!!!

    If you remember last year a report was circulated that they run out of food daily at East Wake Middle and there were holes in the walls at East Wake High

  • clsteve32 Jan 7, 2015

    Actually, the graduation rate in Eastern Wake County is not as bad as you imply that it is. I'm assuming since you think the Western average is close to 100%, that you're saying the Eastern average is close to 60% to give the 80% county average (approximately). This is simply not true. East Wake School of Arts - 86, East Wake School of IT - 81, East Wake School of HS - 89, East Wake School of Eng - 76, Knightdale High - 81. They may not be as high as Green Hope and Panther Creek, but they are close or above the county average, with the exception of one. http://accrpt.ncpublicschools.org/app/2014/cgr/

  • Janet Clarke Jan 7, 2015
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    My daughter learns better when taught by a teacher, not when she has to figure it out herself or have friends explain it to her (I learned this when Common Core started). And by the time kids are in the workforce, they should have been prepared by learning basic skills, taught by teachers, not peers. They can work on problem solving later when they're older and know the fundamentals of what they're doing.