Western Dubuque’s School Board heard an update on the latest Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) of the district’s buildings and the professional development plan for the 2019-20 school year at its July 8 meeting.

Kelly Simon, director of curriculum and assessment for the district, told the board that while the AYP data the district received from the state in late May is a year old, it still shows district buildings showing improvement.

“We are above the state average on all of their measures,” Simon told the board. “We have no targeted or comprehensive designated schools. None of our schools are in the bottom two categories of ‘needs improvement’ or ‘priority’. As an extra special highlight, because I think this is a little bit harder to do, both of our high schools are in the ‘high performing’ category, the second highest category.”

Cascade Elementary joined Cascade Junior-Senior High School and Western Dubuque High School in the “high performing” category. Drexler Middle/Intermediate School, Epworth Elementary and Farley Elementary were in the “commendable” category, while Dyersville Elementary and Peosta Elementary were in the “acceptable category.”

Simon also reported on the district’s plan for professional development for the next school year. Simon said she believes professional development should be ongoing throughout the year. “We are getting away from it being a special event just held on days scheduled for professional development.”

The district is introducing an Option Matrix that will allow teachers to choose a minimum of one professional development option each trimester. Simon believes many staff members will choose more than one.

The professional development options include:

• Observation of Growth Lead with an Instructional Coach — The instructor will observe and implement a change within the classroom with the instructional coach. The teacher will set his or her own learning focus. After a debriefing with the instructional coach, the teacher will create an implementation or learning plan based off the experience.

• Observation of Growth Lead — The teacher will observe and implement a change within his or her classroom, as well as set their own learning focus. Afterward, the teacher will attend an observation on their own, as well as debrief with a colleague or instructional coach to assist with implementation.

• Teaching Lab — This is collaboration with a group where the host teacher sets the focus. They will attend with other teachers and pre-brief, observe and debrief.

• PD Sessions — Teachers will hear about what others are learning. They will attend sessions during a portion of professional development days.

Simon told the board teachers will have the opportunity to apply to serve as a Growth Lead, which will replace a Model Teacher. It will be a rotational position by trimester. Teachers must have selected a focus area such as curriculum, instruction, assessment, educational concept, or relational concept and work with an instructional coach to establish focus and carry out the growth area.

According to Simon, district teachers were presented with the new PD opportunities near the end of the school year and will be presented with the information again when the new year begins in August.