Wake County Schools

Proposed WCPSS strategic plan to change student learning

Posted January 6, 2015 9:55 p.m. EST
Updated January 6, 2015 10:29 p.m. EST

— 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.