As the Stillwater Area School Distirct heads into the last year of it’s three-year strategic plan, the district’s World’s Best Workforce Community Advisory Committee works to give the school board its recommendations on how the district can meet state requirements.

Under Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.11, school boards are to adopt a long-term, comprehensive strategic plan to support and improve teaching and learning. This plan addresses the following five goals: all children are ready for school, all third-graders can read at grade level, all racial and economic achievement gaps between students are closed, all students are ready for career and college, and all students graduate from high school.

This district held its annual public meeting Dec. 3 to release the annual report crafted by the advisory committee with the intention of engaging with the public about the strategies and initiatives that the district has engaged in to meet the goals, and a report of the progress made on those goals in the prior school year. The committee is composed of about 20 residents in the district. The summary report will also be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Eduction for review, as well as posted on the district’s website.

Assistant superintendent Bob McDowell presented the report in a slideshow presentation, but said that it was a goal that next year’s presentation would be given by members of the advisory group.

“In the past, the strategic plan would be presented at a school board meeting by the staff,” McDowell said. “The group advises the school board as to what should the initiatives and strategies be for the five areas, and then advises the board or advises the community in helping plan this event. Last year was the first year and this year, we had lots more input from the committee. As we move on, I think that the vision is that the community can give the presentation to the community.”

In the presentation, McDowell shared that many of the goals were being reached with great success. In the goal of closing the racial and economic achievement gap, the district set the goal of having 74% of students demonstrate high or medium growth in the MCA growth measure by 2021. In 2019, 75% of students showed growth in Reading and 70% showed growth in Math.

However, Stillwater Schools did not reach its goals in reading proficiency to reach its “Read Well by Third Grade” goal. The goal stated that the district’s third graders would move from 63.4 percent proficient to 65% proficient. Instead, this year’s MCA score showed a slide backwards of 58.7% proficient.

“We did not meet the goal of 65%,” McDowell said. “It’s been a struggle with reading across the state.”

McDowell cited a recent change in elementary literacy curriculum as a contributing factor in the slide.

“This last year was our full implementation of the new elementary literacy curriculum,” McDowell said. “We would expect that once we get kids through the curriculum of this elementary program - up to that third grade - now taking MCA tests, we should start seeing some improvement.”

While about 40 people attended the presentation, only a handful of those in the room were not district staff, board members or members of the advisory group. After the formal presentation, those present split off into smaller groups to give feedback on the strategic plan. McDowell said that ideally more people from the community would attend so the advisory group could collect more community input and feedback.

“Traditionally, the next strategic plan would begin in the final year of the old strategic plan,” McDowell said. “If that format is implemented again, the work on the next strategic plan would begin in the fall of 2020.”

To find the complete report and more information of the strategic plan, visit

Contact Alicia Lebens at

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