I have heard Superintendent of Schools Douglas Heuer speak on several occasions, and I have been impressed by the intelligence of plans to improve our schools’ performance. The latest testing results suggest that the district’s improvement programs are effective, as virtually all schools improved. The schools need our support to continue positive momentum with the goal of achieving an excellent rating in three to four years. Let’s do it!
Why am I a believer? Heuer says the school is tackling improvement on several fronts, but he points to three key initiatives to achieve excellence:
- Helping more kids arrive at kindergarten ready-to-learn. At present, as many as 60 percent are not fully ready. That means that, rather than building from a base, our schools have to build up the base, and then go beyond. Our schools do this quite well, but getting more ready at the start of kindergarten will enable our district to get an excellent rating. That’s why the district is starting a second pre-school program at Noble School, in addition to the one at Gearity, for example.
- Helping more kids be able to read at third-grade level by the time they are in third grade. About 30 percent of our third-grade students cannot read at grade level. These students are very likely to perform poorly throughout their school careers, so getting them on track is important. Amongst other initiatives, all K-3 teachers will become reading specialists so that classroom teachers can get the job done. New reading programs in the summer also help to keep kids reading year round.
- Helping ninth-graders complete their first year of high school successfully. A fifth of our ninth-grade high school students don’t complete enough credits to finish the year. The new Deborah S. Delisle Options Center will help them catch up and finish up. They can learn online, for example.
We are in a period of exciting change for our school system, and the goals are very high – to put our district on the leading edge educationally and to offer unmatched opportunities for our students. Many, many of our students continue to demonstrate that they can get a very good education in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools. This should be true for even more students as the district’s carefully thought out plans are implemented with the support of our community. We deserve and can have great schools. Let’s do it!