PLCs: testing, scheduling remain as concerns

POULSBO — Although support for the North Kitsap School District’s Professional Learning Communities is strong among parents, a number of questions remain surrounding the new bell schedules at the district’s high schools.

At a public meeting on Tuesday, teachers, administrators and parents discussed the pros and cons of the PLC plan. Several parents questioned how the district will ensure students are getting enough class time, how they will determine if PLCs are effective and how teachers will keep track of students who are not assigned to tutorials.

“I really do support the PLCs,” said Michele Kulhanek, a North Kitsap High parent. “But kids are kids and we need to be realistic. If they are not mandated to go (to tutorials), they will choose sleep.”

All schools in the district will have their own versions of PLCs for teacher collaboration, but only the high schools will have tutorials and changes in their bell schedules. At Kingston High, all freshmen and sophomores will be required to attend tutorials, and older students will be assigned on a quarterly basis. At NKHS, freshmen will be required to attend tutorials, and older students will be assigned week by week, as needed.

“Students will be required to come if the teacher says they are required to come,” said NKHS principal Kathy Prasch.

District administrators admitted the PLC model will not be perfect at implementation, and will need to change as the school year progresses.

“All school districts grapple with the notion of ensuring high levels of learning for all students,” said Shawn Woodward, NKSD assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

Some parents also wondered if tutorials could be moved to the afternoon, instead of the morning, so that all students are present at the beginning of the day. That way, said parents, athletes will miss less class time on days when they are not required to be at school in the morning but must leave early for an away game. In addition, if school starts at the regular time every day, parents will not have to wonder if their students are supposed to be in class on any given morning.

Parents also wondered how the district will evaluate the PLC formula to see if it is in fact improving the way teachers teach and students learn. Woodward said the district is developing standards and tests that will help determine where new teaching methods are working and where improvements can be made.

“We are very dedicated to improving what happens in the classroom on a minute-by-minute basis,” Woodward said.

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