At the onset of each New Year many people typically set new goals and welcome their clean slate. They seize the opportunity to put forth a new effort to finally conquer the thing that's been conquering them or consciously strive to do something a little different.
I want to encourage each of you to set some new personal and professional goals then settle within yourself to follow through. Once you accomplish your initial goals, celebrate and set some new ones. Success is inevitable when we live a goal-oriented lifestyle.
Prior to the Winter Break, we received some great news and some somber news. I'd like to start with the good news. For the first time in the district's history, 100% of our high schools were graded A, B or C with no D or F schools. This historic accomplishment would not have been made possible without the tireless efforts of the previous Board, students, parents, teachers, administrators and community partners. Let's continue striving to make all of our schools A schools. With the release of high school grades, it makes 86% of the district schools A, B or C schools.
On a somber note, we learned about the violent school shooting that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. I can assure you that we at the district are doing everything we can to make sure that everyone - students, educators and parents - are kept safe in our school environments. We have updated our emergency response plan and will share and train all appropriate staff within the next week.
When I started here fewer than two months ago, one of my primary goals was to meet with as many stakeholders as possible. I am continuing to strive to reach this goal as well as others within the first 100 days as your Superintendent.
In December, the Board and I announced that the district was named a recipient of a competitive Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) that will be used to upgrade technology access in high poverty schools throughout the district. The Florida Department of Education has allocated $29 million to Duval County Public Schools under the QZAB program. This, combined with the community support, will bring the total to $32.6 million that will be used to purchase iPads, laptops, multimedia carts and computer labs for our students.
Since last month, I have invested quite a bit of time meeting faculty, staff, and community leaders at various school-based and Town Hall community meetings. I appreciate hearing the concerns of every stakeholder. Their participation in these meetings is something that I do not take for granted as it shows a vested interest in our children's futures and the future of our district.
Two weeks after taking my post, I reviewed the 2012-13 testing calendar, weighed the comments of our teachers, and I took it upon myself to reduce the duplication of district testing. I determined that a total of eight assessment tests could be eliminated. In the coming months, it is my hope to restore stakeholders' confidence in the district's assessment system by developing more reliable, aligned, and effective assessments for reading, mathematics, science, writing, and End of Course Exams. I deeply desire to do my part in balancing the enjoyment of teaching with the ability to measure academic performance while doing away with the bureaucratic process of teaching to tests.
I was also featured in a
video where I shared my thoughts about teacher evaluations, which indicated that 90% of our teachers are effective or highly effective. As I stated in my interview, we have to make sure that we take a close look at the data included in the
Value Added Model prior to making solid decisions based on this model.
Lastly, if you have been unable to attend one of the previous community meetings, I will hold a series of meetings throughout the remainder of the month. The meeting dates are below and all of the meetings start at 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, January 15 - Ribault High School
- Thursday, January 17 - Raines High School
- Tuesday, January 22 - Ed White High School
- Thursday, January 24 - Mandarin High School
Hope to see you there!
|Nikolai P. Vitti, Ed.D.