What will education in Lower Dauphin look like in six years? In 30?
The district’s comprehensive planning process attempted to give direction for the next six years – looking further into the future than that and the crystal ball gets cloudy. Even three years into the future there is a great deal of uncertainty which is why the district reviewed the plan at its midpoint to ensure it was still on course.
One of the duties of the district’s Comprehensive Plan Committee was to try and develop a picture of what skills and abilities a student will need to compete in the increasingly global workforce. Do the skills Lower Dauphin seniors graduate with prepare them adequately to take their place among their peers in the state, nation and world?
Another area the committee examined was the structure of our current educational delivery system. The public school calendar in Pennsylvania still has a long summer break to accommodate the needs of an agrarian society. Even the bell structure in the high school and middle school can trace its roots back to the turn of the last century as we were educating workers to join the industrial revolution. There is no doubt these methods were effective in their time, but are they still the best way to educate students in a 24/7, interconnected global community?
The committee looked at our current practices and operations to determine their effectiveness and efficiency. The current K-12 model of grouping students by age level is already seeing changes in the secondary level. For example, in an Algebra II class at the high school, you might find freshmen, sophomores and juniors grouped together. Can this model of grouping students by ability and interest be applied in our lower grades?
Finally, the committee was tasked with developing a plan to chart the district’s direction for the next six years. This plan was submitted to the state in November.
“What did we want to accomplish with this comprehensive plan? To develop a vision for the future, including moving to 21st Century learning environments and skills,” said to Superintendent Sherri Smith.
To do this, the committee evaluated data about existing district programs and analyzed test scores on state and district assessments. They examined attendance and graduation rates, and discipline records. And they analyzed stakeholder perception data using feedback surveys given in January 2012. Every Lower Dauphin parent was invited to
take a survey as were students in grades 4-12, all L.D. staff members, community members and recent graduates.
“There’s no doubt that this process is a lot of work,” said Dr. Smith. “But in order to effect real and meaningful change in our educational practices, it needs to be accomplished so our Lower Dauphin students are prepared to meet the demands of a changing world."