March 17, 2006 – A draft of the Education Department's strategic plan for 2005 through 2009 is posted on the department's Web site and open to comments from the public.
At a press briefing Friday, Education Commissioner Noreen Michael said the department would not approve the plan until all "constructive" comments from residents have been reviewed and possibly incorporated into the document.
Dr. Anya Sebastien, assistant commissioner of Education, said various school principals and other government officials have also been asked to provide their comments, and added that she anticipates the department should have signed off on, and implemented, the plan by June.
Michael said the plan is an extension of another strategic plan that was drafted by the department – but not formerly adopted – in 1999. The new plan, she said, clearly describes Education's mission statement, along with goals to improve the territory's education system, and indicators to show whether the goals have been met.
She said goals include:
–making sure students get the "best education possible," so they are able to remain competitive with their peers in the territory and around the world.
–increasing students' performance on standardized tests by strengthening their reading and math skills.
–providing a quality environment for students, including those with special needs; this goal also has provisions dealing with the school lunch program.
–offering a challenging curriculum for students.
–offering activities for community and parental involvement.
–making sure the department's resources are properly managed.
Michael said each goal would be implemented at the school, district and administrative levels. "So, say we're looking at increasing standardized test scores," she explained. "Then obviously the principals at each school would put activities in place to look at doing that, and specific activities may also be put in place at the district level, then by the department itself."
A "large influx of funding from the local government" would not be required for the creation and implementation of the strategic plan, Michael said. "Since we have already been doing most of the things which were included in the 1999-2004 plan, much of the funding is already in place."
Michael said each individual public school also has its own improvement plan – a requirement of the compliance agreement between the local and federal Education Departments – which further address some of the local department's goals, including organizing outreach programs for at risk students.
"Our ultimate goal is the student achievement," she said. "And what we're doing with the strategic plan is because we recognize the critical nature of accountability. We're trying to get our information out there, so we hope everyone will take the time to log on to the site and post their comments."
To view the strategic plan, visit www.doe.vi.
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