ASCISD has the philosophy of growing our own people and believe that teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement. Therefore, the district embarked on a comprehensive professional development initiative. The purpose of Professional Learning in ASCISD is to create rich and meaningful ongoing professional development opportunities to continuously improve teacher quality that positively impacts the teaching-learning process and overall student success. As part of the comprehensive professional development initiative, teachers are given a professional learning period during the instructional day in order to provide an opportunity for on-going professional development throughout the school year. In addition to professional learning periods, teachers that attend out-of-district workshops are encouraged to bring the information back to teachers within their department and/or school through a training during professional learning periods, after school, or during one of ASCISD’s professional learning conferences. These conferences are held during August and January staff development days and the teachers within ASCISD facilitate breakout sessions so our teachers are given the opportunity to choose their own professional development path.
Differentiation of Instruction
In order to more effectively meet the individual needs of students in ASCISD, the district has focused on providing both local, sustained efforts and utilizing state and national experts in the area of differentiation. Based on instructional walkthrough data, administration and Professional Learning Team (PLT) members realized an effort was necessary to give teachers more tools to better meet the needs of their students. This initiative began in January 2011 at the Professional Learning Conference in which Professional Learning Team members facilitated concurrent sessions to allow teachers the time to learn about differentiated instruction through the research of Carol Ann Tomlinson. During spring 2012, teachers were encouraged to try instructional strategies designed to differentiate for students’ learning styles and readiness levels. Based on feedback from teachers, the district secured a distinguished national presenter on differentiation of instruction, Betty Hollas, to present a two-day workshop titled, “Engage to Achieve: Real-life Classroom Strategies for Making Differentiation the Norm and not the Exception in Schools”.
Bring Your Own Technology
In order to continue down the path of meeting students’ individual needs and embrace the new digital learning environment, the district has launced a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) initiative. We believe that students need access to master learning standards through multiple paths and the BYOT initiative allows students the opportunity to access content through technology. The district wants to continue to move towards a path where students become creators of their own knowledge and can use technologies to learn at any pace and on any path.
Texas Virtual School Network
In order to embrace the learn anywhere, anytime, and on any path philosophy, the district is providing students the opportunity to take high school, dual-credit and advanced placement classes through Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN). Students are not limited to take these courses during the school day or at a certain time. In our small, rural school students now have the opportunity to learn multiple foreign languages and take advantage of new elective, dual-credit and advanced placement offerings.
Project Based Learning
In order to prepare our students for real-world applications and to step into a digital future, ASCISD has embraced Project Based Learning (PBL). "In Project Based Learning, students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking)." - Buck Institute for Education
ASCISD received close to $1 million dollars through the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant from the United States Department of Education (USDE) to develop a Human Capital Management System (HCMS). A HCMS is the alignment of district and campus goals with systems for educator evaluation, job embedded professional development, and human resource strategies to create a model for increasing teacher quality and student achievement.