Trigg Schools focusing on next-gen learning
by Franklin Clark, Reporter -- fclark@cadizrecord.com
Mar 16, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Trigg County’s Board of Education talked about next-generation learning when they met Thursday night at the school central office.

James Mangels, director of student and personnel services for Trigg County Schools, said next generation learning focuses on a 21st Century classroom, and added that Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday supports them.

“It’s basically a totally new approach on how we think of learning,” Mangels said. “It’s not 28 credits and so many seat hours, it’s not four walls, it’s not a teacher dispensing what they think is important. It is beginning to look at new strategies, and we need to think outside of the box.”

Trigg County School Superintendent Travis Hamby said that while it won’t be something the district will do next year, it is the way of the future, and some innovation can be had if teachers and staff are willing to come up with new ideas. He also said he wants to look at a Next Generation Learning Team.

“I want people to challenge my thinking as superintendent of schools, not that we go out and implement everything, but that we begin to have conversations things and bounce ideas off of one another that are different.”

The plan calls for individualized plans based on mastery of subjects as opposed to grades, which Mangels said would make learning the constant and time the variable instead of the other way around.

Districts with strong innovation, motivation and leadership will be the districts that can take it to the next level, said Mangels, who added that he thinks Trigg County might have such a district.

Trigg County School Board Chairman Mike Davis expressed some concerns about the proposal, stating that if time is a variable, some students will have to be in school for as many as 15 years before they’re ready for college.

No action was taken on the matter, as Hamby said it was just something for the board to think about.

Beth Sumner, assistant superintendent of instruction for Trigg County Schools, proposed doing away with the GRADE, GMADE, ThinkLink and AIMSweb exams – diagnostic exams designed to show a student’s strengths and weaknesses – and replace them with the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) exam.

Sumner said that while a student will spend three and three/fourths hours on one round of all four exams, they would spend only three hours on the MAP exam. She also said that while they don’t get the results back for a while on some of the four exams, a teacher could know how one of their students score the next day with the MAP exam.

Hamby said there is also a lot of time spent analyzing the four exams. Davis said the MAP exam “could be a real timesaver.”

Hamby also said he is waiting a few more weeks to finalize the current year’s calendar, mainly because he wants to get through winter and also because he wants to look at legislation that just passed that allows some alternatives for missed school days.

Hamby said at the meeting that the new hybrid bus would be delivered Friday, with a media unveiling planned for Monday morning at 11 a.m. and hoped that the bus would start a route Tuesday.

Trigg County is one of 30 school districts in Kentucky to receive grant money for the hybrid buses, funding that comes from the U.S. Department of Energy. Hamby said that at $150,000 the bus costs roughly twice as much as a regular bus, but with the grant the bus costs the district as much as a regular bus.

The bus works like other hybrid vehicles, and get 11 miles per gallon, as opposed to the district’s other 46 buses, which get about seven miles per gallon, Hamby said. Matt Ladd, director of operations for Trigg County Schools, said on Monday that school buses generally last 15 – 20 years.

In board actions, the school board voted to accept bids for the workers compensation insurance for the 2012 fiscal year. Hamby said the district’s current workers compensation insurance ends on June 30 this year.

The board also voted to allow Trigg Arrowcats to use the Free Enterprise System to provide transportation to the state competition in Louisville March 30, with the boosters footing the bill.
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