We have recently elected a new Board of Education in Coventry with many new faces. They have not yet issued a statement of goals or given us any inkling as to their priorities or plans going forward. Now is a perfect time for a discussion of priorities and an update from the past to be sure we are heading down the best road going forward.
Five years ago, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges issued a report concerning Coventry High School. There were many items in the report that should not be ignored, and some have already received attention. Attention however may not be enough to bring real solutions and change. Change is sometimes difficult, cumbersome and slow but often necessary and often perseverance is the key.
The Visiting Committee said in their report concerning curriculum, “Although the curriculum guides at Coventry High School indicate the school-wide academic expectations for which they are responsible, only some departments have made the effort to show the connections between the course content and the academic expectations being assessed in their respective courses”. You have to wonder if we have the same department heads and are they, to use the words of the committee, now making the effort that would be expected in this area.
It is difficult to learn if you are not in class and even more difficult if the teacher is taking time off. According to the report the student attendance rate was 96% and yet teachers (excluding professional related absences) only showed up for work 93% of the time. It seems an update on this should be an annual priority for the Board of Education especially considering the cost in loss education combined with dollar cost of substitute teachers.
To enhance professional growth and development leading to better teaching a recommendation called for a plan to allow for feedback from parent, students and faculty members. Have we instituted the plan and what results have we seen? Is it time to review and make further improvements based on experience or have we developed the perfect plan?
Do we know if students are meeting learning expectations better now than in 2006? At that time “only 8.75% of the staff is of the opinion that the learning expectations are clear” said, the report. Students could not effectively relate what expectations were and problematic were the words, “there is no assurance that Coventry High School students are achieving the expectations in the mission”. Are we better off today than we were in 2006 and what are we doing for the future?
Our students are often considered to be a reflection of the community and at the time it was said, “Students appear consistently respectful and well mannered toward guests, staff members, and peers. Fortunately our students in 2006 found their school environment to be safe and “that occurrences of bullying and fights are rare”. Does the same hold true today?
Starting with a clean slate provides this Board of Education the opportunity to look back, ask questions and set priorities for the future. Their obligation to the community is to provide evaluation, leadership, and guidance for our educational district the future of our children is in their hands.