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Superintendent releases Strategic Operating Plan

Photo+of+the+Community+Conversation+held+at+Cross+Street+AME+Zion+Church+to+raise+awareness+in+the+community+about+the+Superintendent+Dr.+Michael+Conner%E2%80%99s+new+strategic+operating+plan.
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Superintendent releases Strategic Operating Plan

Photo of the Community Conversation held at Cross Street AME Zion Church to raise awareness in the community about the Superintendent Dr. Michael Conner’s new strategic operating plan.

Photo of the Community Conversation held at Cross Street AME Zion Church to raise awareness in the community about the Superintendent Dr. Michael Conner’s new strategic operating plan.

Photo courtesy of Sonya Hadley

Photo of the Community Conversation held at Cross Street AME Zion Church to raise awareness in the community about the Superintendent Dr. Michael Conner’s new strategic operating plan.

Photo courtesy of Sonya Hadley

Photo courtesy of Sonya Hadley

Photo of the Community Conversation held at Cross Street AME Zion Church to raise awareness in the community about the Superintendent Dr. Michael Conner’s new strategic operating plan.

Jenna Rabah, Staff Writer

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Frequently, the superintendent of Middletown Public Schools formulates a new plan that sets goals to increase the success of Middletown students. Dr. Michael Conner, MPS superintendent formulated a strategic plan along with administrators, teachers, students, and community input. According to Dr. Conner, a plan is a blueprint that facilitates the achievement of short and long term goals. It keeps everyone on track and provides flexibility to ensure obstacles do not hinder success.

The strategic plan, entitled “Middletown 2021”, aims to ensure that all students are provided with individualized education and ensures equity lines are within the operations of Middletown Public Schools. The plan also intends to eliminate Middletown’s achievement gap, which is higher than the state and national average.

The strategic plan includes a goal in teaching and learning, which encompasses the academic readiness and learning opportunities. The second goal of operations, systems, and structures pushes for more efficiency among departments throughout the district. The plan’s third goal on choice and innovation models aims to establish educational models that drive the achievement and innovation of students.

The plan started with Dr. Conner’s “Explore Middletown”, a city-wide school tour with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the district’s needs and asses the current state of schools. Explore Middletown generated data that guided the core elements of the strategic plan. The plan puts a focus on equity, innovation, and continuous improvement. In September of 2018, the formulated plan went on to be approved by the Board of Education for implementation into schools.

The Board of Education will analyze the success of the plan by the end of 2021 to see how much of the plan was accomplished, adjusting for the achievement of future goals. Performance indicators being monitored in various sectors of the plan include NWEA, SAT, SBAC, Lexile levels, graduation rates, teacher absenteeism rates, and school climate data.

This plan impacts students at the high school by attempting to provide more access to rigorous classes and to create fostering relationships between students and teachers. Along with other schools in the district, high school students will have a more personalized learning experience. Dr. Conner hopes to achieve this by giving students more time to complete assignments and master skills. Dr. Conner wants the district to actively steer away from its categorization of students into boxes based on grades, and focus more on the students’ growth.

Dr. Conner described the time a student is allowed to learn as a variable and learning as an outcome. When more time is allocated for learning, there is an increase in instructional time, and therefore, students are given more time to explore and go deeper into understanding the concepts they are learning.

“The whole plan is a direct reflection of the voices of 1,358 people [who participated in the entry plan],” said Dr. Conner. One factor the strategic plan took into account was student voice. Students wanted to be confident in their readiness for college, have more access to rigorous courses, and equity throughout the organization for both students and teachers. “It’s going to take time because a lot of these changes require changes in mindset,” he said.

The new plan will propose changes to the current schedule, including a ten-minute increase in the academic day, 80-minute classes, and fewer classes in an academic day.

Sophomore Alana Boire said, “I don’t think it [ten-minute increase in the day] will be beneficial to any students, students wouldn’t see the point of it would just wander the halls.”

Junior Maya Alicki said, “He seems like an educated man, he seems like he would have a plan for the betterment of students, I trust him. However, as a junior, I have gotten used to the way things are, having longer classes would stress me out.”

When asked about criticism towards his strategic plan, Conner said, “Let’s work together, the plan is geared toward the success of 4,579 students… There’s going to be a little shift and change that we as adults have to adjust to, but if it is for the improvement of our students and better their outcomes as scholars and prepares them for life, then we should come together for that one premise.”

As a previous administrator in Norwalk, CT, Dr. Conner experienced a “successful plan” that lead to Norwalk being awarded the highest performing urban school district in the state of Connecticut and having second highest growth rates based off of the strategic plan.

For more information, “Middletown 2021” is available on the district website.

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Superintendent releases Strategic Operating Plan