Building Foundations for Success, Celebrating Student Achievement
WCSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Traci Davis
Update Community in Annual State of Education Address
Reno, NV (February 15, 2017) – español Amid high-flying drones, young musicians demonstrating their musical prowess, and students telling their emotional stories of perseverance and success, the Washoe County School District (WCSD) Board of Trustees and Superintendent Traci Davis celebrated the District’s progress toward academic and capital projects goals during the 2017 State of Education address. This annual presentation is part of the District’s commitment to keep the community apprised of its successes and struggles, its work with students and families, continuing emphasis on creating a District that is equitable for all students, and the ongoing improvement in test scores and graduation rates.
The theme for this year’s State of Education address was “Foundations for the Future,” and the Board of Trustees joined Superintendent Davis in celebrating the passage of WC-1 and thanking the community at the event. This measure, which was approved by voters in November 2016, creates a consistent funding source for repairs in aging schools and the construction of new schools to accommodate the growing student population in Washoe County. The funding will enable the District to address severe overcrowding which exists in some schools while ensuring equity for all students, no matter which schools they attend.
WCSD Board President Dr. Angie Taylor joined Superintendent Davis, several outstanding students, and staff members to deliver this year’s address to several hundred parents, District staff members, and business and community leaders. Depoali Middle School was chosen to host this year’s event after it was named a National Blue Ribbon School in September, one of only two Nevada schools designated as an “Exemplary High Performing School” as measured by state assessments.
“The Annual State of Education Address is a critical part of our continuing efforts to communicate with our community,” said President Taylor. “There is so much happening in our District! This event gives us a great opportunity to share information about what our staff is doing to support students and families, how these efforts are contributing to greater academic success, and about how the community can join in and lend support to our mission to educate ‘every child, by name and face, to graduation.’”
“I am excited to share information with our staff members, families, students, and our community at this event,” said Superintendent Davis. “I especially enjoy spending time with so many wonderful students who participated in this year’s State of Education address. They remind us that we must never lose sight of our goal to help our students discover and refine their skills and talents in preparation for the workplaces of the future. Tonight is a celebration of our students’ and staff members’ efforts to achieve excellence in all we do together.”
During the address, Superintendent Davis discussed a variety of topics that impact the District’s 64,000 students and more than 8,000 staff members:
- The District’s Capital Projects team is creating a new Infrastructure Plan for repairing and renovating existing schools, and constructing new schools to ease overcrowding and accommodate an increasing student population. The first project will be the construction of a much-needed 22-classroom addition to Damonte Ranch High School, and more plans are in the works. Thanks to the passage of WC-1, these plans are moving forward. The District has created a web page which contains further information: www.WCSDBuilding.com
- WCSD’s graduation rate set a District record in 2016, with 77 percent of students earning their diploma. More than half—52 percent—earned honors and advanced diplomas. The District projects another year of growth in the graduation rate for the 2016-17 school year.
- The District continues to lay the groundwork for creating and nurturing a safe foundation for each child and a secure environment where every child feels safe.
- Superintendent Davis previously set a goal of “90 by 20”—a District-wide 90 percent graduation rate by 2020. Six of our high schools have already achieved this goal: McQueen, AACT (Academy of Arts, Careers & Technology), Damonte Ranch, Reno, and TMCC high schools, as well as North Star Online School, now have graduation rates of 90 percent and above.
- In order to stay on track toward this goal, WCSD continues to expand supports to parents and students, including free full-day kindergarten in all elementary schools, expansion of pre-kindergarten programs, and extra resources to families to promote literacy at home. Superintendent Davis sent personal letters to all high school students, encouraging them to stay on track to graduation and providing them with links to resources in the District that are ready and willing to help.
- As part of its commitment to providing a world-class education to all of its students, regardless of their special needs, the Washoe County School District:
- has improved its Comprehensive Life Skills (CLS) curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities, health impairments, and deficits in adaptive skills
- is working with a national consultant and building a taskforce to review autism programs
- is engaging with the Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP), a group of parents, staff members, and community members that makes recommendations about how to best serve our special education students as we work to refine and reform our practices
- has enhanced our special education training for educators, as more than 80 schools have teachers who are trained in Inclusive Practices. In addition, 11 schools received on-site Collaborative Coaching where two teachers—one from general education and one from special education programs—plan and teach together
- has scheduled the District’s first Family Engagement Day specifically dedicated to special education. Families will learn about our special education programs and gain valuable insight on ways they can help improve their child’s education. This Family Engagement Day is scheduled for April 29.
- The Student Advisory Board, a panel of students representing each of the District’s high schools, provides feedback to our Board of Trustees about issues that are important to students. District-wide, students participate in the annual Student Voice Conference where they discuss what is important to them in their education and provide input to District staff members.
- The Safe and Healthy Schools Commission continues to help improve safety at schools. This year, commission members brought in an independent auditor to evaluate the safety of WCSD schools and recommend changes. These results have been shared with the Board of Trustees at a public meeting, and will be used to make important changes in our schools. In the coming weeks, the commission will host a school safety public forum.
As part of its ongoing efforts to maintain transparency with the community and provide ready accessibility to information, the District has created a website— www.wcsddata.net – which contains user-friendly data about our students, teachers, and schools. This information provides at-a-glance information for anyone who would like to learn more about student demographics, graduation rates, and the District’s work across the educational spectrum.
The District continues to recruit quality teachers via the Alternative Route to Licensure, a program that enables members of our community who have already earned their bachelor’s degree to work in the classroom on provisional teaching licenses while completing the coursework for full licensure in high-need teaching areas including elementary education, secondary math, secondary science, and special education. WCSD has hired more than 70 teachers so far, with another 80 candidates currently working on their licensure set to be hired for the next school year.
WCSD also continues to emphasize STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education through four elementary school and two middle school STEM Academies to increase opportunities for students to learn STEM skills that are an important part of education in a competitive global marketplace. STEM education teachers use Project-Based Learning (PBL), where projects motivate students to gain knowledge by giving them a chance to practice skills in relevant and real-world situations. Some STEM classrooms have partnerships with technology businesses that provide real-world applications for STEM subjects.
In addition, WCSD offers high school students choices for innovative, rigorous, and stimulating curriculum through Signature Academies and Career and Technical Education programs. There are 11 academies that provide students with opportunities to acquire and practice 21st century skills and prepare students for success in college and highly skilled careers. The academies include: performing arts, pre-engineering, sports medicine, global studies, agricultural science, culinary, graphic design, and the International Baccalaureate program.
TMCC High School at the Pennington Applied Technology Center (TMCC High School @ATC) offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to pursue a technical certificate from Truckee Meadows Community College while earning their high school diploma as a member of TMCC High School. Courses of study include Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), production technician, welding, automotive, HVAC technician, architecture, energy technologies, diesel, and drafting. This dual-credit program is tuition-free, and gives students the opportunity to leave high school college- and career ready.