Editorial: Applaud MCHS for efforts at change | CraigDailyPress.com

Editorial: Applaud MCHS for efforts at change

Moffat County High School teachers are experimenting with new methods to reach and challenge students. Such changes are necessary for continued improvement in our high school.

This week, Craig Daily Press reporter Darian Warden wrote about new teaching philosophies being adopted at the high school. Teachers have spent much of the fall undergoing training focused on helping them identify desired student outcomes and then working to implement teaching methods to achieve those outcomes. MCHS Principal Thom Schnellinger said the new methods are aimed at engaging students more broadly with specific focuses on initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, information analysis information and curiosity and imagination.

Such approaches are welcome, particularly in the wake of scores recently given to the high school by Colorado School Grades. The nonprofit coalition of organizations whose stated mission is to give all children access to high-performing schools, assigns letter grades to every school in the state based on academic performance and growth.

Moffat County High School's scores were not good. The school received an overall grade of C-, with a D+ grade in academic growth and a C in academic proficiency. Overall, the high school ranked 257 of 327 high schools in Colorado, placing the school in the bottom quarter of the rankings. Colorado School Grades is merely one measure of school performance, but its rankings are consistent with the most recent accountability report issued to the high school by the Colorado Department of Education.

It is against that backdrop that we applaud the high school's efforts at improvement. Last fall, several high school teachers undertook the acclaimed Education Theory Into Practice training. Out of that training, teachers developed a set of principles to get students more engaged in learning, enhance their technological skills and improve their writing.

At the center of the changes is the school's shift to the Understanding By Design approach to education. Understanding By Design is an education practice that turns the traditional education process on its head. Historically, schools have adopted curriculum based on available textbooks and lesson plans. In Understanding By Design, the process is reversed — first, educators identify what students should learn and then build curriculum and lesson plans designed to get students there.

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Understanding By Design is not easy to implement, but schools successfully have used it to improve student performance.

In the age of school accountability, no school can afford to maintain the status quo. School report cards and rating systems do not wholly define a school or a district. But they do reveal opportunities for improvement and change. Teachers must be willing take on such changes. It's good to see Moffat County High School teachers trying to meet such challenges.

Our View

It is encouraging to see teachers at MCHS utilizing new methods to try and improve student performance, especially given the school’s recent performance.

Editorial board members:

• Matt Beckett

— Community representative

• Brad King

— Community representative

• Allan Reishus

— Community representative

• Brent Boyer

— Newspaper representative

• Scott Stanford

— Newspaper representative