The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District has adopted a three-year plan designed as a first step toward a new data-driven approach to districtwide academic goals, school officials said Tuesday.
The Comprehensive District Education Plan, approved by School Board members in a unanimous vote this week, sets as a district goal in the next three years the achievement of a 90 percent passing rate for Ken-Ton high school students taking Regents examinations.
The plan also ups expectations for test performances by elementary and middle school students and places a new emphasis on the performance of the district's special education students, the officials said.
"The purpose behind it is mostly to keep in synch with the way the state Education Department has been moving since we have the new commissioner -- it's more data-driven," said Superintendent David A. Paciencia. "We need to look at how students are performing, and why, and how we can measure it."
The comprehensive education plan will affect all 13 schools in the district, aligning the schools' curricula with the new state standards, officials said.
Paciencia said that while the state does not yet mandate school districts to draw up or adopt a comprehensive education plan, the documents are encouraged. Many education experts believe the plans will be required by the state within a few years, he said.
"We're trying to be proactive with this," Paciencia said.
Marilyn Gates-Kurzawa of Erie I BOCES, the facilitator who helped Ken-Ton put together the plan over the past year, said the document will require school administrators and teachers to do data-based reviews at the end of each school year, in order to analyze whether or not students are keeping up with the state's new academic standards.
Each year, the schools will tabulate student achievement, comparing it with previous performance levels and with the state benchmarks, Ms. Gates-Kurzawa said.
Then, the district will put into place strategies to improve the year-to-year results, she said.
"This plan is designed to lead to activities that will improve student performance," Ms. Gates-Kurzawa said, citing examples such as tactics designed to get parents to cooperate in the education of their children and ways for teachers to find hidden in-class teaching time.
In particular, the plan recognizes the fact that Ken-Ton -- mirroring school districts statewide -- needs to pay special attention to its special education students, Ms. Gates-Kurzawa said.
A trend around the state shows some special education students being allowed to fall through the cracks, a fact which is reflected in test scores and other performance data of the students, Ms. Gates-Kurzawa said.
According to Ken-Ton officials, the district's plan will be forwarded to the state Education Department this week for review and could be adopted by state officials within the next few weeks. On the district level, the plan will go into effect immediately, officials said.