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School district organizes schools into performance zones

Elementary, middle and high schools in the same neighborhoods are going to get a lot cozier with each other as they are organized in to cooperative teams beginning this month.

Clark County School District schools will be organized into 14 “performance zones” based on location and achievement.

Principals seem ready to give it a chance.

“I don’t see it impacting any school in a negative way,” said Del Sol High School p rincipal Betsy Angelcor, “because you have more access to your supervisor.”

Angelcor referred to the 14 academic managers who will oversee instruction and curriculum for each of the zones.

“Instructional concerns should be paramount,” Angelcor said. “I think (the academic managers) will be able to assist the principals much better.”

Prior to last month, most of the more than 300 schools were grouped into four areas with supervisors for each area .

The new model puts between 20 and 30 schools in each performance zone and relegates fewer schools in zones with the lowest achievement, as well as more oversight.

These schools with lower achievement also are expected to receive preferential access to resources, such as having first dibs at hiring new teachers and receiving a larger portion of professional development funds.

Conversely, the higher performing zones will have more schools and greater autonomy.

All schools will be grouped into three area service centers with about 100 schools in each one.

An unbounded “autonomous zone” will be created over the next few months for empowerment schools and those that have shown consistently high achievement.

There will be no limit to the number of schools that can join the “autonomous zone,” since they meet annual performance targets and demonstrated already that they can do so without much oversight.

The zones mirror the attendance boundaries of high schools, and some zones have two or more high schools’ attendance boundaries combined into one zone.

Eldorado High School p rincipal Danielle Miller expects the plan to improve communication at all three levels of schools.

The best changes, she said, are that schools will have greater access to the academic manager and the manager will focus specifically on improving classroom performance.

Miller said she hopes this also streamlines the students’ transition from the elementary level to the middle school and high school levels.

“What happens in elementary school affects the final outcome in high school,” Miller said. “It’s about owning the performance of kids from ‘K’ through 12.”

It will be at least a few years before the results of this plan can be properly assessed. Superintendent Dwight Jones’ Preliminary Reforms Report sets a five-year window for achieving the district’s goals.

Goals include increasing the graduation rate to 75 percent, narrowing the rates of academic growth for minority subgroups by half and having annual increases in standardized testing scores at all grade levels.

For more information about performance zones, visit ccsd.net/performance-zones.

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at jmosier@viewnews.com or 224-5524.

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