Focusing on What Matters Most
In the fall 2018 at the close of this three-year strategic plan, the Upper Arlington community will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of its school district. From the outset, a strong and reciprocal relationship between home, school, and community has been considered essential for growing the unique talents, abilities, accomplishments, and dreams of each child. The first “school” was established in the basement of a private home, and the theme of the first high school yearbook was “endeavor to be true” to self, school, and society. Over the last century, we have crafted a high-quality school system that simultaneously performs well on academic performance metrics and personalizes the learning experience for individual success.
As our second century dawns, swiftly changing economic, social, and technological conditions are shaping the future for our students. We must focus on what matters most in an educational approach that advances academic and personal success in a balanced and healthy way. The community discussion during the fall 2013 clearly called for a disciplined focus on efficiency, accountability, and results. An increased attention on efficiency in our operations and facilities is a just and reasonable expectation from the community, and one that will be of paramount importance in protecting resources for the classroom and implementing this strategic plan.
The strategic plan consists of five goals performance, personalization, accountability, efficiency, and ownership. While each goal includes a small set of objectives and strategies, the overall plan centers on three big moves. First, we will invest in personalized learning strategies that reinforce our strengths, such as highly effective instruction, and move us forward with greater student choice and ownership of learning. Second, we will implement an Upper Arlington Quality Profile that will support our efforts to increase performance, personalization, accountability, efficiency, and ownership. The profile will go well beyond state assessments designed for external accountability, and it will include metrics that inform and develop how we address the unique needs, talents, and abilities of all of our students. The profile will allow us to engage regularly students, parents, staff, and the community in a conversation about how we define and pursue quality. Third, we will constantly identify and act on operational and facility efficiencies that help us build the reserves necessary for making strategic investments.
Implementation discipline is key to the success of the plan. The district will not undertake any major strategic initiatives over the next 3.5 years that are not in the plan. We will follow a pragmatic and results-driven approach—building awareness of the strategic plan, embedding a new vision and mission throughout the culture of the district, attaining greater levels of efficiency, reaching a higher level of community trust, and graduating unique and accomplished students who are prepared to serve, lead, and succeed. The 2015–2018 Strategic Plan will build off a century of commitment to growing the whole child by guiding the Upper Arlington City School District and community to greater educational results, operational efficiency, and accountability.
The Importance of a Good Planning Process
From April through November 2014, we developed this plan through broad and deep inquiry and engagement. The first phase involved study groups led by UA citizens who produced reports on the critical issues of accountability, results, and efficiency. The second phase involved district- wide community and staff meetings, conversations on the quality of learning experiences at every building, and online feedback around the three study group reports and the first draft of the plan. The total process involved more than 3,800 in-person and online engagements. We captured student voices through surveys, focus groups, and online feedback. A Strategic Coordination Group composed of UA community and business leaders, parents, and school staff guided the work from beginning to end. Documentation of this work is available on the district website.
Uniquely Accomplished students prepared to serve, lead, and succeed.
Challenge and support every student, every step of the way.
A Relentless Focus on Learning
The Upper Arlington City School District must continue to set clear and high learning expectations. The strategic plan is designed to advance our capacity to challenge and support learners, teachers, principals, support staff, central office, and the Board. We recognize that the quality of student learning is shaped significantly by effective professional learning. We must continue recent efforts to make our professional learning support system more relevant, job embedded, customized, and grounded in peer-to-peer sharing of effective practices. Moreover, we must endeavor to be true to the following organizational values:
- Focus: We pursue a small set of strategic goals aligned to our vision and mission. Everyone is focused on student learning and success.
- Feasibility: We ensure we have the capability to deliver promised results. We efficiently and effectively manage financial and human resources prioritized around our five strategic goals.
- Commitment: We stay the course on what matters most. We work collaboratively and creatively on successful implementation of the strategic plan.
- Reliability: We assess progress through multiple, reliable measures, scale what works, and make changes when needed.
- Trust: We are honest with each other about our strengths and opportunities for improvement. Our communication and relationships are defined by mutual accountability, respect, and support.