School Board Notes

posted Apr 13, 2018, 6:07 AM by


With town meeting officially behind us, the board spent much of our April meeting beginning to lay groundwork for next year. As part of our discussions, Principal Chris Smith presented several of the steps DCS will be taking as we move toward 2018-19. One position that has been reached by the DCS staff and administration is that DCS will not be moving forward with the PACE initiative, electing instead to maintain DCS’s current approach to school-wide assessments. While the administration intends not to continue with PACE, the productive and valuable tools that have accompanied the system at DCS, such as rigorously vetted performance assessments and inter-faculty quality control, will continue. The staff and administration value the goals of PACE -- to use engaging and meaningful modes of student instruction and assessment -- and will continue to work toward their implementation independent of the PACE system.

Principal Smith also outlined a pilot approach to grouping students beginning next year in 5th grade. One of the goals of DCS’s ongoing work to incorporate more competency-based learning is to target education more directly to match each student’s needs. Each student enters 5th grade, for instance, in a slightly different place. Competency-based education strives to meet each student where they are and challenge them to move forward. While accomplishing this in a small school ilke DCS is not easy, the 5th grade teachers have agreed to use more fluid student groupings next year. As Principal Smith explained, in this model students will move between groups as they gain mastery of various competencies, thereby allowing teachers to target their instruction to a group of students that is working on a comparable competency. The goal of this pilot in 5th grade is to find a balance between more effective instruction and maintaining a ‘family’-type group that is so important to students of this age. Looking forward, success in this pilot may lead to considering even more flexible groupings that span the ‘band’ of 5th and 6th grades combined.