RCAS Strategic Plan Pt. 1

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© Canyon Lake Elementary students sat in their gym during a presentation, Sept. 8, 2017 © Canyon Lake Elementary students sat in their gym during a presentation, Sept. 8, 2017
RAPID CITY, S.D. -

The Rapid City Area School District has created a 5-year Strategic Plan to improve the educational experience for its students.

Last fall, a community-wide survey determined potential areas for improvement within the district. Since then, staff, community leaders, and a planning group outlined five specific goals, detailed below:

  • Reading by third grade
  • 21st century learning
  • College, career, and life readiness
  • Teaching and leading
  • Partnerships

The reading goal is the foundation critical to the entire plan. Reading is the benchmark for all other learning curriculum, especially in the transition from third to fourth grade. Students will be facing aggressive texts in certain classes like science and math, so without the reading foundation, they are facing an uphill battle.

"Reading by third grade is absolutely critical and essential,” said Dr. Lori Simon, the superintendent for RCAS. “We know that we need to teach students to read by third grade because beyond third grade, they are then expected to read to learn. So if you don't have those reading skills and those comprehension skills by the end of third grade, then you are expected to understand text at the various grade levels, up through their educational journey. We set students and teachers on a course of frustration.”

The district set benchmarks along the way that will track students’ proficiency levels. Along with adding reading programs in the classroom, like Phonics, each student entering third grade was sent home over the summer with a book to read. They will meet the author Sept. 21.

The district has also reallocated staff to focus on students’ specific needs and is in the process of adopting new core reading materials.

"We brought back literary staff to all of our elementary buildings to reduce that class size in our primary grades,” said Valerie Seales, the director of teaching, learning and innovation for RCAS. “During reading instruction, that allows us to differentiate based on students’ needs and more closely monitor students’ growth and provide more timely intervention for those students.”

It's also recommended that parents begin reading to children before they get into the classroom. 

View all parts of the district's plan here.

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