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LPS collaborates with major university

LAWTON, Okla._With the help of a major university, Lawton Public Schools is working on bettering its educational programs.

For the last 13 years, the University of Virginia has been helping LPS make improvements as a part of leaders of education. This year, LPS has chosen Hugh Bish and Pat Henry Elementary Schools, and Central, MacArthur and Tomlinson Middle Schools as their lead, or benchmark sites. Those schools are the foundation of the partnership that is designed to take LPS to the next level.

The university identifies 12 districts across the country each year to provide training for teachers and administrators. Typically those districts are made up of schools in dire need of some revamping, but Lawton Public Schools wasn't in that situation. So, the goal of the partnership with UVA is to go from good to outstanding.

The path to change isn't a short one, as the lead program is three years long, but Brenda Hatch who is the lead shepherd said the University of Virginia is the expert and has the program down to a science. The first two years she said consists of observations and pretty intense training.

"Then the third year is sustainability. They want to make sure that as they fade out that we don't just drop it and go," Hatch said.

In that time frame, UVA will help to identify what they call "big rocks" or the areas that need improvement.

"The big rocks that we've identified is we need our teachers to be able to meet every week to collaborate, to talk about very specific things like unpacking the standards, truly understanding the standards and how they need to teach."

Hatch says data analysis is also crucial.

"Using the information they have on their students to drive their instruction, to provide intervention for students who maybe aren't being successful."

Having identified those goals, I asked hatch what changes should be expected this school year.

"The students are going to become much more aware of exactly what they're learning, why they are learning and do a lot more thinking about their thinking. It'll raise the bar on their, what we call, higher order thinking skills, but they'll become very involved in their curriculum."

Parents can expect better communication with the teachers, as far as the progress their child is making.

Another "big rock" is weekly observation and feedback, which as the lead shepherd, hatch takes the reins on. She spends at least half a day at the lead schools each week observing the curriculum and classroom settings and providing feedback to administrators.

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