Alliance Schools has solicited peer feedback and undergone academic review
ALLIANCE — Students likely noticed nosy guests with clipboards in their classrooms on Wednesday.
The guests were educators from other school districts.
The Alliance City School District underwent a statewide academic review for feedback and suggestions, in partnership with Mid-Sized Urban District Leadership Collaborative in OhioInc., which includes 21 school districts in Ohio.
The Alliance and Canton City school districts are members of this organization of Stark County.
Superintendent Rob Gress said the last time a review of this nature – also known as instruction rounds – occurred was before COVID, but it never happened at Alliance . The other exams were held in other districts of Ohio.
There were nine observers – in teams of three – in all the buildings, going from class to class. They took notes on teachers, students and content. All this information will be transformed into a report.
“(They) will give us suggestions and recommendations, as to what practices they might have that might help us,” Gress said.
Here is the reason why it was done
In general, district officials requested the review to improve all aspects of the educational experience at Alliance. But the district has a complex problem, stemming from COVID, that officials wanted to help solve.
Shawn Jackson, director of secondary education for the district, said that since the COVID pandemic, the number of students below grade level has increased and the district has been looking for strategies to improve the situation.
“How do we scaffold and what strategies do we use to enable children to learn and master grade-level text,” he said.
Jackson, a former principal of Alliance High School, has participated in four academic reviews for other districts in the past. The last, for him, was in 2018. He said those reviews have always offered up some great insights.
“Each I picked up something that we ended up implementing. Every trip,” he said. “I think it’s a valuable experience.”
Here’s how it’s helped other districts
As Jackson said, Wednesday’s observers uncovered some Alliance practices that they plan to bring back to their districts.
For example, Shay Price, principal of Maple Heights High School, observed a social studies class at Alliance Middle School. She became interested in a message board that mixed social media with history lessons.
The board featured Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, and Joan of Arc as Instagram posts. Price said the presentation was a good, relevant use of social media to draw attention to historical figures. The material was delivered in a medium that students love.
“That’s something we could do (at Maple Heights) to make learning more relevant for our students,” Price said.
Here’s how it benefits students and families
Price and the other observers were to band together as a group and write a report based on what they had seen. The report will be given to the Alliance school officials for review.
“We’re going to go through that with our team here,” Gress said, “determining which of those we can, want, and should implement. And then we’ll sit down with those leaders down the line and tell them how it’s done.” ‘is going.”
Gress said district officials will also meet with the Ohio Department of Education to discuss the academic review, sharing with the state, “how the process went and what hopefully gains we realize”.
For the families, he said the essence of this process is to improve academic achievement in the district, providing a better educational experience and opportunities for students.
“We want to improve,” Gress said, “and we know that all of these educators have great experiences and great skills that can see things that we may not be aware of.”
Contact Benjamin Duer at 330-580-8567 or [email protected] On Twitter: @bduerREP.