FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why make changes when Dripping Springs ISD has been successful in the past?
Dripping Springs ISD has always been a successful district is all arenas. Our graduates have been well-prepared for what they face after leaving our district. However, what our future graduates will face in their lives does not look the same as what our previous graduates faced. If we want to truly prepare our students for successful and happy lives while developing the skills they will need, our approach needs to be updated. All students are unique learners and the concept of Personalized Learning will celebrate those differences and will offer students learning experiences that allow them to connect with their passions and interests. The excellence for which DSISD has always been known will be maintained and grown.
Were all the elements of the strategic plan new?
No, many concepts and components of the plan have been showing up in classrooms and departments in recent years. For instance, the idea of placing a life changer in every position in the district has been a point of emphasis for district and campus administrators and the Human Resources Department. Teachers have taken many steps towards creating learning experiences that engage students and help build 21st Century skills. The 2016-21 strategic plan organizes and defines the path the district hopes to follow in serving students in the next five years and beyond. It incorporates pieces of district and school operations that have been successful and adds some new twists that will continue DSISD’s forward movement.
Does the strategic plan move the district to a Project-Based Learning (PBL) Model?
No. While aspects of the PBL model align well with many of the goals and objectives in the strategic plan, teachers will use projects like any other instructional tool. If projects are designed so that students are able to choose their method and manner in which they pursue learning objectives, the students will be in a position where they are directing their own learning. However, all students learn differently, which is the crux of the concept of Personalized Learning. We hope to develop a system where students who learn better in a project setting and those who learn better in a more traditional setting all can thrive.
Do teachers receive training to guide them as the strategic plan is implemented?
Absolutely. The Department of Learning and Innovation, working closely with campus administrators and teachers, identifies and offers training to support teachers. Teachers are empowered with tools to help them create meaningful and active learning experiences for students. Professional development is a key factor in the success of the strategic plan’s implementation. We also want to create more opportunities for teachers to offer training and modeling for other teachers. Teachers also will have a Professional Personalized Learning Plan to guide their growth and help them stay on track for their learning needs.
What is the timeframe for implementation?
During the spring of 2016, DSISD introduced the strategic plan, in conjunction with the new district brand/logos. Full implementation began with the 2016-17 school year. While evaluation of various components of the plan will be ongoing, a full review and evaluation will occur after two full years (summer of 2018) and any necessary adjustments will be made.
Who is responsible for developing and maintaining students’ Personalized Learning Plans?
Personalized Learning Plans will be a joint effort between the student, teacher, and parents. Input also may come from other sources such as the school counselor, aides, reading specialists, etc. Because these plans will be updated regularly, all parties will work together to ensure that it reflects the most current and accurate information as the student journeys down his or her learning path. The district continues to research various tools to help in this effort.
Will the strategic plan cost a lot of money?
The district is trying to transition to this plan using current resources in more efficient, smarter ways. Some of the new features of the budget do not have a cost associated with them, and we will actively seek out new approaches or develop partnerships that may open new doors. Some potentially beneficial tools may cost more, and decisions will need to be made about which ones will be used and which cannot. An example is block scheduling at the high school; while this model allows for deeper learning and better learning experiences, it requires more staff. As we move forward, we will budget as carefully as we always have, and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. The district has and will continue to make decisions based on what is best for kids.
What if some elements of the strategic plan don’t seem to be working?
This is a big undertaking and that is certainly possible. If one piece fails, we will learn from it, adjust it, and move forward. The strategic plan is a living document that can be updated over time. Modifications will be recommended based on feedback on an ongoing basis.