I had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Jeffrey Burke, Superintendent of Splendora ISD, a small, five-campus district northeast of Houston. I am excited to share highlights (some paraphrased) of our conversation in hopes it inspires other school leaders in our state.
Question: What are you doing to actualize the Visioning Document in Splendora ISD?
Dr. Burke: In order to drive the future ready work, we have convened an assessment focus group for 1.5 years now to move from a single measure to multiple measures of assessment. We have specific things in place such as removing benchmarks and implementing more rubric-based (less multiple-choice) assessments. We are looking at more performance-based assessments as well.
In terms of organizational transformation, I have an Assistant Superintendent of Leadership and Culture. We are working on professional growth of our staff and this has been the best back to school professional development. We have a Teacher Leader Academy that is about supporting them to lead other teachers. We also have an Exceptional Leaders Academy I & II for those looking to move to different levels of leadership.
We have revamped our curriculum based on our Curriculum Management Plan to focus on High Priority Learning Standards, too.
Question: What systems do you have in place to ensure all students are able to achieve profound learning?
Dr. Burke: Our elementary focus is on four areas: literacy, a love of school, numeracy, and relationships. We are working to strategically abandon things that don’t matter – things that keep us from having that instructional focus on literacy. We are using data to support those decisions of abandonment. The number one thing is that our kids have to be literate, so through guided reading we are supporting all learners to achieve high expectations.
I appreciate Dr. Burke’s time for this conversation. It is reassuring to speak to other leaders in our state, celebrating great things happening in our schools. I challenge you to consider your responses to these questions and to share your story as a district/campus leader.
For the latest happenings in Splendora ISD, follow the district on Twitter, @SplendoraISD. You may also follow Dr. Burke @jslade34 as well.