Core competencies for graduates OK'd by Greencastle-Antrim School Board

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board has approved five core competencies for district graduates, and the next steps toward reaching them will start soon.

At the Feb. 4 meeting, the board heard a summary of the work of the Destination Design Team, a group of 60 parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty, staff, administration, business owners, taxpayers and board members assembled in the fall to articulate a "Portrait of a Graduate"; approve the competencies; and learn what happens next.

"With our world becoming increasing unpredictable and rapidly changing, it is vital that our educational system adapt to the needs of our students," according to Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent, who has likened the work to a strategic plan.

"It's not about the knowledge we stick in their heads, it's about what they can do with that knowledge that's going to make them successful," she told the board.

The competencies are critical thinking and social responsibility; creativity and innovation; literacy and communication; physical and emotional health; and general knowledge and academic preparation.

"If we can create our education around them (the competencies), our students will be successful in life after high school," Dan Barrett, a counselor at Greencastle-Antrim High School and a member of the Destination Design team, told the board.

Mike McManus, middle school principal, talked about the process and the description accompanying each competency. The competencies were provided to district staff and students leaders, and McManus said 100% of the responders said they are essential to postgraduate success.

"I believe that working to develop a student as a whole as opposed to just the academic portion of that student is imperative in shaping a strong member of society," one student wrote.

This is what Greencastle-Antrim students had to say about the core competencies identified by the Destination Design Team.

A criticism is that the report might be too wordy. McManus called it a "living document" that will be refined over time.

Refining it begins next week as the district "will excessively target curriculum, instruction and literacy as our focus for student achievement and development of our core competencies," according to Hanks.

This slide was about what Destination Design is and is not was shown to the Greencastle-Antrim School Board Feb. 4.

The world is changing and, according to a slide shown at the board meeting, this is the district's opportunity to "Recalibrate. Refocus. Reprioritize."

There will be a team for each of the three target areas. The instructional design team, with eight to 10 members, will meet for the first time on Feb. 17 and work toward a "clearly articulated instructional design reflective of a district philosophy that identifies effective practices and guaranteed experiences for all students as well as a systematic response to address differentiated needs of children."

The literacy leadership team, eight to 10 members, gets to work March 3, with the focus on a "districtwide philosophy identifying our beliefs about effective literacy instruction and related actions to be taken in instruction and practice.

The curriculum design team is the largest with 30 to 50 members crafting the K-12 framework. The group is scheduled for training sessions with Jay McTighe, an educator, author and educational consultant, later this school year, followed by a summer curriculum institute open to all teachers. Staff members will work together on planning specific to their grade levels and content areas.

The objective of all is "to design the future for our students," said Angie Singer, primary school principal.

More:Greencastle-Antrim School District Destination Design team creates Portrait of a Graduate

More:Greencastle-Antrim schools start 2021 with COVID-19 adjustments

Portrait of a Graduate: Competencies defined


Critical Thinking and Social Responsibility

GASD students will demonstrate varied thinking skills to construct knowledge, identify patterns, formulate arguments, and solve problems. Our students will think critically to develop authentic, logical action plans to demonstrate their ability to be resourceful problem solvers. Our students will be able to act as decisive leaders within their personal, professional and community environments communicating with clarity, empathy, while responding with compassion. GASD students will excel in working independently and collaboratively with others to garner diverse perspectives, contribute using their strengths and rely on support in areas of challenge as they approach every new problem, situation, and opportunity. 


Creativity and Innovation

GASD students will embrace the structured learning environment as a pathway for creative thought, expression, and innovation. Our students will use general knowledge and skills coupled with curiosity and imagination to find new and innovative solutions to problems and to communicate personal thoughts and ideas. Students will be reflective in their experiences in order to adapt to changing environments and consider diverse perspectives. GASD students will demonstrate resilience and resourcefulness as they practice their creative thinking. Students will acknowledge that innovation is a process often requiring multiple attempts, revisions to ideas, and a willingness to collaborate with others to achieve a desired outcome.


Literacy and Communication

GASD students will demonstrate the ability to access and understand information from a variety of forms to include words, numbers, pictures, and charts. Students will be able to garner information from both print and digital media, oral or visual representations and determine reliability and purpose of the information presented. GASD students will demonstrate the ability to process information in order to react and respond appropriately. GASD students will be able to effectively organize information and adjust their communication methods to meet the demands of the purpose and targeted audience. Our students will be able to quickly adapt to changing technologies by understanding the purpose and function of available tools and applications. They will demonstrate a deep understanding and sense of numbers in order to identify patterns, relationships, and functions to maintain financial stability and find different routes to solving complex problems.


Physical and Emotional Health

GASD students will demonstrate an awareness of their individual work habits, social habits, strengths, and weaknesses. GASD students will be able to express and manage emotions and develop meaningful relationships with others through physical, social and emotional experiences. They will demonstrate self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-regulation through their actions, communication, and collaboration with others. GASD students will be equipped to make healthy decisions to protect themselves, both physically and emotionally. Students will be adaptable, respectful, and empathetic as they engage with others in diverse settings. They will be equipped with healthy strategies to manage emotions and face challenges.


General Knowledge and Academic Preparation

GASD students will demonstrate acquisition of general knowledge as measured by local, state, and national standards. Our students will demonstrate mastery of interdisciplinary skills and processes associated with academic preparation. GASD students will demonstrate the ability to transfer their knowledge and skills to authentic, real-world situations. GASD students will experience a rigorous curriculum with diverse offerings to ignite curiosity for the possible pathways post-graduation. GASD students will be self-directed learners, and supported as they prepare for and design their own post-graduation plans.