Hince to Focus On Learning in New Year

As Marshall County Schools heads into the new year, Superintendent Michael Hince said he wants student learning and achievement to be the focus of 2014.

Hince cited promoting critical thinking skills in students and preparing for the future of testing in the state as goals for the upcoming year.

“We do not want teachers to be distracted from student learning by the multitude of tasks they are asked to do each day,” Hince said.

“So much is expected from the school systems from child nutrition and exercise to health and values of children. We wish to keep the focus on learning. It is not that those other issues are not important, because they are, but learning and achievement must be the center of our attention.”

Hince said the continuing implementation of the Next Generation Content Standards will help guide the way for students to obtain critical thinking skills. He said these skills are vital for students to be successful in any opportunity after college and it is important for children to learn as early as pre-school.

The district will also be preparing for the Smarter Balanced Testing Pilot this year, an online test that allows students and teachers to get a first look at online testing and the kind of questions that will align with the Common Core curriculum.

Only certain grades will take the pilot test this year, Hince said, but all students will take the WESTEST 2 online. Hince said Smarter Balanced testing will not go into effect for another two years, but teachers are taking the time this year to adapt to the new model.

Teachers will also use a training day in February to spend a few hours revisiting progress they have made implementing the Next Generation Standards in the classroom. Teachers will meet up by subjects and grades to share what lessons they have used and what has worked well.

“It will be a good opportunity to see what others are doing and share best practices,” Hince said. “This will help teachers use each other as resources to improve their own classroom learning environments. It is the ideal professional learning community.”