Last month, East Baton Rouge Parish public schools released a draft strategic plan for 2021 – 2024. The plan included a series of ambitious, student-centered goals for the public school system. Under Dr. Narcisse’s leadership and thoughtful guidance from the School Board, the draft strategic plan includes goals of equitable access to Pre-K, greatly increasing the number of second graders reading at or above grade level, reducing the number of students subjected to in and out of school suspension, and improving teacher and staff retention rates.
My organization supports the key goals of EBR’s draft strategic plan and are thankful to the Board and district for engaging students, teachers, staff, parents, and community members throughout the process. Parents and community members have had numerous opportunities to provide input during the process and that helped create the relevant goals. We are also glad to see that the current draft includes even more opportunities for community input, specifically in sections titled Commitments in Action.
As Stand’s Regional Organizing Director, I am responsible for our family and parent engagement programs. Maybe I’m biased, but I am most excited about the family and community engagement initiatives, second only to student results. On page 14 under Exemplary Customer Service, the plan calls for an annual survey that measures community sentiments over time. This is a great resource and outlet for families. The draft stragegic plan also seeks to have an active PTA or PTO in every school by the end of the 2022 – 2023 calendar year, a wonderful opportunity to increase family support of student learning. The district also pledges to release all information in multiple languages to improve equitable access to information – that’s a big deal for our families who may not be fluent in English.
Speaking of family support, there are TWO town halls this week for the public to provide input on the draft plan (and if you’re reading this after the town halls, I hope you went & were heard!)
I am excited that this plan includes both monthly and annual reporting implementation guidelines (page 15) that I believe will improve transparency, family and community involvement, and ultimately student results. While this plan sets ambitious goals for 2024, it also allows for reasonable responses and adjustments as we go along. For example, while we want to see at least 85% of 2nd graders reading at or above grade level at the end of school year 2025, the plan includes the actual percent for the 2020 – 2021 school year as 46%. Based on these 2021 results, an appropriate and ambitious goal will be set for the 2021 – 2022 school year, and the 2022 – 2023 school year goal will be set based on the results of the 2022 school year. This is student-centered planning at its best.
Dr. Narcisse and his advisors have clearly considered family and community input. This past February, Stand Louisiana staff and volunteers completed 608 surveys of EBR residents. Many of the issues addressed in the strategic plan were highlighted in the responses received from the community. You can see the results to our survey here.
Thank you to the School Board, Dr. Narcisse, and EBR leadership for including parent voices and focusing on student results, teacher retention, and family satisfaction. We look forward to continuing to engage as we turn this draft into a final plan and begin to implement it with fidelity.