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Painesville City Schools Teaching Case

Improvement Efforts Targeted to Meet Local Needs

Responsiveness to District Families

Painesville sponsors improvement initiatives that address specific district needs. To address the problem of transience (moving within the district), the district implemented a common elementary curriculum and is working to align pacing and assessment across its elementary schools. The contentious issue of homework (how much? how useful?) has been mitigated by the district’s move to standards-based grading, in which homework contributes only minimally to the calculation of grades. Other specific needs within the schools have been addressed through district-wide use of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) to address students’ language needs in all subject areas; establishment of a family resource center that offers English instruction, parenting classes, and support services for community members in need; and efforts to augment guidance services, improve attendance, and connect students with community mental health and recreational programs.

Painesville’s high proportion of students facing economic disadvantage and large number of students with limited English proficiency are “facts of life” in the district. Teachers and administrators strive to understand the special challenges facing these students and address their educational needs in ways that are responsive to students’ backgrounds and living situations. District teachers and administrators recognize the importance of engagement with students’ families, and employ a variety of strategies to enhance communication and facilitate parental involvement, including the use of language translators and translation technology.

Addressing the specific needs and circumstances of all district students remains a challenge. Not all of Painesville’s teachers and staff are well informed about, and comfortable working with, students experiencing issues related to poverty, transience, different cultural norms, and limited English proficiency. The district approaches these issues openly, and encourages an ongoing dialog through which school personnel can build capacity to understand and effectively respond to students’ academic, social, linguistic, cultural, and behavioral needs. As this process continues, district improvement efforts likely will evolve and new initiatives may be implemented.