As Wright City R-II School District administrators and teachers prepare for the official start of a new school year Monday, Aug. 13, the spotlight on academic rigor will continue to intensify, aided by technology that will help students and teachers incorporate 21st century digital tools into the education process.
This year the district will allow students in middle school and high school to bring their own handheld wireless devices into the classroom and enable them to access the district’s wireless network for various learning exercises.
“This use will be at the individual teacher’s discretion, and we’ll closely monitor to make sure it’s truly a classroom tool versus a distraction,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines. “We will talk with the kids at the outset to set ground rules.”
Gaines said teachers and administrators have spent time over the summer getting ready to transition to the new Common Core State Standards initiative that clearly establishes what is expected for students at each grade level. The new standards — which Gaines said will be the focus of an upcoming town hall meeting — are designed to help teachers instill in students the knowledge and problem-solving skills necessary for work and college.
Rather than just memorization that has long been the accepted model in American education, Common Core focuses on making sure students have a strong conceptual understanding of material that will translate later to success in a modern work force, higher learning and life.
“The curriculum focuses on learning that also encourages classes to explore real-life applications,” said Gaines.
The superintendent said that teachers participated in curriculum training during July, and that kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers also have recently spent several days attending the school’s data institute that immerses them in research, intervention and enrichment strategies to keep kids on track in the classroom.
R-II also has been getting its facilities prepped for the new school year, with renovation of the parking lot as well as painting at West Elementary, and painting and restroom improvements at the high school.
Gaines said the 2012 summer school was the largest on record, with close to 700 students enrolled.
Fall benchmark testing will give teachers and administrators a good look at the academic achievements accrued during the summer session, he said.
Open Houses for all school buildings are being held this week.
“We’re looking forward to having the kids back,” said Gaines.