York County School Division Strategic Plan

Rigorous Engagement

3. The York County School Division will engage all students in rigorous educational experiences.

• The Division average class size at the elementary level will be at or below 20:1 for students in grades K-2 and 25:1 for students in grades 3-5, subject to available resources. The Division average class size in core courses at the secondary level will be below 30 students, subject to available resources.

• In spite of a significant decline in state resources, all the Division average class size targets were met, as of Sept. 30, 2010.
• As of Sept. 30, 2010, the Division average class size at grades K-2 and at grades 3-5 was below the targets.

• The division will develop a new technology implementation plan by June 30, 2009, that provides greater access, more frequent and smaller upgrades, and service-oriented support of users. The plan will be reviewed and revised annually.

• The implementation of state-of-the-art virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology, initiated in March 2009, enables teachers to access any and all software, applications and resources literally from anywhere, at any time, on any device.
Upgraded the network in the summer 2010 to accommodate substantial increase in network traffic, improve the speed and quality of internet access, and enhance wireless access.
• Improved course options for students by expanding our virtual learning program to more than 60 virtual course options taught by York County teachers during the 2010-2011 school year.
• Increased student and staff access to tools for learning, sharing and broadcasting, such as online collaboration tools, student email, screencasting and mobile learning devices.
• Implemented process in October 2010 for providing all schools with upgrades to web-based programs, software and peripherals on an ongoing basis (more frequent, but smaller, than an update once every seven years). This process provides more autonomy and flexibility to schools to increase usage of technology.

• The division will continue to provide engaging, rigorous opportunities for student learning through multiple magnet/thematic programs.

York High: IB Diploma Programme
The IB Diploma Programme (DP) at York High School is a rigorous college preparatory course of study for eligible, academically-talented students in grades 11 and 12; the Pre-Diploma Programme serves qualified students in grades 9 and 10. IB courses are designed to help students develop strong writing, time-management, oral communication and critical/higher-order thinking skills across the curriculum as they prepare for success in a global society. (Photo: VIMS)

• Living up to its reputation as an academically rigorous program, the IB Diploma Programme continues to see students soar towards success. In 2010-2011, York High IB Diploma Programme students were recognized for the following accomplishments:
     • CNU Math Competition top prize winner
     • $10,000 Lee-Jackson Scholarship recipient
     • National Merit Semifinalists (3)
     • 2011 Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalist
     • Student artwork selected for permanent display at the IB North Americas Headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland
• The IB Diploma Programme continues to challenge students through a unique compilation of community partnerships and outreach experiences to include participating in the NASA Day of Science through the Vehicle Analysis Branch of NASA; a Foreign Language Round Table with students of the Language Houses from the College of William and Mary; and an ongoing partnership with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, enabling IB Biology students to receive hands-on instruction from a VIMS scientist.

Bruton High: School of the Arts
The York County School of the Arts (SOA) is a dynamic fine arts program designed to push students towards academic growth and artistic development through a combination of rigorous in-class learning experiences and a host of extracurricular enrichment experiences. While the overall program emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of the arts, students audition to attend one of four programs specializing in the literary arts, rhythmic arts, theatre arts, or technical theatre arts. (Photo: SOA Scotland)

• In August 2010, a group of over 40 students performed Cinderella at the American High School Theatre Festival in Edinborough, Scotland. Schools must be invited to apply and SOA was one of only 30 high schools in the U.S. invited to perform. In addition to performing, students visited important cultural, literary, and artistic sites in London and Scotland over the course of two weeks. This is the fifth time SOA has been invited to the Fringe Festival.
• In 2010, five SOA Literary Arts students won the SPARC New Voices for the Theatre, a state-wide playwriting competition. These students had their plays performed onstage in July at the end of a two-week intensive residency at VCU where they worked with directors, actors, and designers to participate in all aspects of playwriting.

Yorktown Middle School: IB Middle Years Programme
In 2010, the YMS Middle Years Program was recognized as an IB World School after a two-year candidacy period in which students, faculty, and administrators worked to embrace the IB philosophies. Designed for students in grades 6 through 8, the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) teaches students to become independent learners who can discover the relationship between school subjects and the world. The MYP fosters the individual talents of students and helps middle school students become inquisitive life-long learners who have a cultural appreciation for the world around them. (Photo: Miner Rescue Presentation)

• MYP students have engaged in a quarterly speaker series targeting the 2010-2011 theme: Power of Communities. Speakers have included a representative of the American Red Cross, a NASA engineer speaking on the Chilean mine crisis, a YCSD teacher highlighting his teaching fellowship in Kazakhstan, and a representative from the ARC of the Virginia Peninsula.
• Marking the third year of the IB MYP at Yorktown Middle School, faculty and students are excited to embark on the first annual 8th grade culminating projects where students will work with a faculty mentor to investigate a topic of their choosing; resulting in final presentations at both the first-ever MYP Expo on April 19, 2011 and for their younger MYP peers on April 22, 2011.

Queens Lake Middle School: Middle School Arts Magnet
The Middle School Arts Magnet provides enrichment and instruction in the literary arts, theatre arts and rhythmic arts for students in grades 6-8. Helping students make connections between the arts and their core academic subjects, the mSAM program encourages the development of written and oral communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a creative and interdisciplinary environment. (Photo: mSAM Swing Dance)

• In January 2011, Queens Lake mSAM students performed at their annual swing dance with a live big band. Students learned combinations and basic swing steps in their Rhythmic Arts classes, so they were able to teach their parents, siblings, and friends at the dance. The evening was a tremendous success with over 300 participants dancing the night away.
• Another benefit of mSAM is the extensive program of guest artists. In the 2010-2011 school year, lectures/demonstrations were provided by an early music ensemble, a professional puppet company, a professional choreographer, a Dixieland band, and a commercial visual artist. These up-close-and-personal presentations with professional artists give mSAM students opportunities to experience areas of the arts with which they may not be familiar.

Yorktown Elementary School Math Science and Technology Magnet
The Yorktown Elementary Magnet School provides students with enriched instructional opportunities for in-depth and integrated studies of math, science and technology in conjunction with a strong academic program in English, Reading and History. (Photo: YES)

• In the 2010-2011 school year, YES students participated in the Stock Market Game. This activity challenges cooperative groups of students to grow their virtual portfolios by researching, trading, and monitoring stocks throughout the school year.
• In February 2011, YES fourth graders will gear up for the Elementary Applications to Shipbuilding (EASE) Boat Design Competition. This competition is an authentic learning experience in which students are challenged to apply math and science knowledge within the boat design learning module.

Waller Mill Elementary School Fine Arts Magnet
Waller Mill Elementary School Fine Arts Magnet supports all students in becoming productive, compassionate and responsible citizens by integrating the arts into a positive school experience focused on academic, creative, personal and social success. (Photo: Poetry Integration)

• During the first marking period of the 2010-2011 school year, grade 5 teachers and resource staff integrated Music, Drama, and Dance to enhance the grade five poetry SOLs. Students created and recited original poems and set them against a backdrop of movement and music.
• Under the direction of theatre arts teacher, Kerri DiFiore, Waller Mill has produced three Internet Safety videos. All three videos produced to date feature Waller Mill student actors and all three have been posted by VDOE on iTunes U in their Internet Safety section. The most recent video, "Tech Kids in: The Cyberbully Zone" received an Award of Merit in June 2010 from the National School Public Relations Association in the Publications and Electronic Media category.

• By 2010, staff will review and make recommendations regarding the implementation of an assessment tool which measures critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving and written communication skills.

• Several assessment tools designed to measure higher order thinking skills were reviewed by staff. The College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) is an example of a comprehensive assessment tool that measures critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, and written communication skills. The CWRA requires students to integrate these skills using a variety of authentic documents to respond to specific constructed tasks.
• Using an assessment of this nature could provide significant benefits. However, because of logistical, financial, and other challenges, staff recommends deferring further investigation until fiscal year 2012 or 2013. The School Board reached consensus in support of this recommendation at its work session in December 2010.

• Beginning in 2010 staff will integrate the use of digital technologies into curriculum guides to support the development of 21st Century learning skills.

• In FY10, Educational Technology Facilitators (ETF) and Educational Technology staff worked with teachers to revise curriculum and integrate digital technologies into more than 20 courses. In FY11, ETFs and teachers will update more than thirty additional courses to include the integration of digital technologies.

• The division will develop a plan by Oct. 1, 2009, for offering a new sequence of Career and Technical Education courses in at least one high school. The plan will be implemented by the start of the 2010-11 school year.

• In the 2010-11 school year, 31 students enrolled in the new CTE Health and Medical Science Course - Introduction to Health and Medical Sciences at Bruton High School.
Program features include numerous guest speakers from the health sciences profession, field trips and a three-day "Exploring Careers and Healthcare Opportunities" summer camp.

• The number of high school students earning career and technical certifications, state licenses, or successfully completing national occupational assessment credentials will increase annually by 5 percent.

• In 2009-10, the number of students earning industry certification, state licensure, and successfully completing the National Occupational Assessment Credentials increased by 49 percent over the previous year.

View the current Strategic Plan

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Division Superintendent: Victor D. Shandor, Ed.D.
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