Mount Olive School Design Standards
The Mount Olive Township Board of Education adopted a set of instructional standards called the Mount Olive School Design Standards. The standards were developed by a substantial group of parents, teachers, and administrators known as the Mount Olive School Design Committee. The schooling design work is the first of its kind in the 5,000 student district and is a central part of the recently adopted Six Year Plan for Improvement.
"The established goal for the School Design Committee was to formalize a set of educational practices that will define the Mount Olive schools. These practices were to be fully rooted in educational research and directed toward producing high levels of student understanding", said Superintendent of Schools Larrie Reynolds. "The primary motivation behind establishing a 'design' for our schools was to create a sense of constancy and purpose for all of our educational activities going forward. The Design Standards provide the Mount Olive schools with a guiding document, fully vetted by a community-wide group of stakeholders that will help evaluate school progress".
The term "design" is most commonly used in the context of manufacturing and construction concerns. Bridges, automobiles, and the like have long been created through an intentional design. Establishing a design for a public school is not all that different, says Debra Martin, co-chair of the School Design Committee. "Public schools need to ask themselves how their programs conform to the desired end result. A proper school design begins with the end in mind. It asks, 'what is to be expected from our graduates?' Once the community agrees on what we aspire for our graduating seniors, we can use this information to work backwards, to design specific instructional practices intended to produce measurable evidence that our students are exhibiting the necessary skills to deliver intended outcomes."
The Design committee, comprised of over 120 members, met five times between September and January 2009 to complete the work. Rather than starting from "scratch", the committee organized their efforts around the work of national organizations that have already identified what some have noted as "best practices". Among the "designed" areas are Classroom Climate & Management, Student Voice & Involvement, Learning Language and Communication, Teaching Characteristics, Student Products & Activities, Assessment and Accountability, Differentiated Learning & Groupings, Science, Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and the Arts methods, Vision/Leadership Characteristics, Technology Integration, and Professional Development.
"The district has made great strides over the past few years and has built a sound educational foundation," said Rene Gadelha, co-chair and past BOE member. "The establishment of this schooling design signals a renewed effort to drive student academic achievement to new heights. It ushers in new exciting possibilities for the future endeavors of our kids."
Click here to download the Design Standards