Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer

With the adoption of its new 21st-century learning plan, the Washington School District is getting to work implementing new instructional practices to enhance student learning.

The district — with the help of its three focus groups — has been revising curriculum, integrating technology, repurposing facilities and expanding community involvement as part of the plan.

Some of the projects include a 1 to 1 technology initiative being developed at Washington High School where some class sections will be provided with laptops or tablets and others will be allowed to bring in their own as part of a pilot program.

Teachers also will be provided with the mobile learning devices.

Upgrading all of the district’s buildings to a wireless infrastructure is already under way. The high school is being completed first and the other schools will follow next year.

Another pilot program for the near future is STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses which will be taught by science specialists in some of the elementary schools.

The new Early Childhood Center, which the district expects to break ground on later this month, will partner with East Central College when it opens to expand preschool opportunities and enhance the teacher education program.

Boosting graduation rates is another project. The district has a task force analyzing trends and development program to ensure that all students graduate.

Additionally, defined 21st- century skills will be added to graduation requirements.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said these projects are just a few of the goals outlined. She said the new educational plan marks the beginning of significant change and the plan will be evaluated annually in order to determine progress, make changes and identify new goals.

Failure is not an option, she said.

“Doing nothing to change our educational delivery system and not keeping up with the changes of the global society is to ensure our students are destined to fail,” she states in the plan. “Making changes and altering the course of our road map is a necessary and vital part of achieving success.”

VanLeer said the district is focused on producing students who are competent problem solvers and critical thinkers.

The entire plan is available online at

The district’s goals also are outlined in the plan. They are:

1. Pursue high achievement and graduation for all students, regardless of student circumstances and support system.

2. Cultivate and grow staff into quality, dynamic team members through an effective evaluation and support system.

3. Develop and implement effective professional development that encompasses best practices and supports all staff.

4. Analyze and restructure the organization to become more efficient, effective and accountable to support the goals of the district.

5. Foster and enhance staff, student, parent, business and community involvement.

Communication between the district, parents and community is key, VanLeer said, and will increase over the next year with information being disseminated in various ways.

A summary of all of the goals, including student achievement gains, and how progress will be tracked is included in the plan.