While the design teams were instrumental in the development of the plans for the new and renovated schools, the implementation and transition teams addressed the educational programs and transition issues related to Moorhead Area Public Schools’ construction projects.
Educational enhancements being implemented included:
- Reconfigure the district’s grade structure from the current K-4/5, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12 design to a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 design to reduce the number of transitions for students and allows for comprehensive curriculum development.
- Implement the middle school model for grades 6-8 to support the needs of preadolescents. Construction of the new middle school allowed the district to fully implement the middle school model with appropriate areas for instructional teacher planning and student learning.
- Create a ninth grade center, similar in concept to the middle school. An addition to the high school created a ninth grade center with classroom and teacher planning space for the core curricular areas. Besides providing a transition between eighth and ninth grade, the ninth grade center created three smaller learning communities (one on each floor of the center) enhancing personal connections between students and teachers.
- Create smaller learning communities at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Each of the three elementary schools was designed with smaller learning communities to create a safe environment where students have a sense of belonging. Teachers are able to share their ideas and work together as a team. This helps to better assess the needs of the students and increase their learning potential.
The middle school was architecturally designed to create separate learning areas for each grade level. Students study core subjects in their own area. Courses such as art, music, physical education and world language are studied in centralized classroom areas.
High School has three smaller learning communities within the ninth grade center and additional student learning areas organized by division. The creation of the smaller learning communities helps personalize education for students.
- Provide opportunities for interdepartmental learning at the middle school and high school levels. The organization of the smaller learning communities at the high school and middle school allows flexibility for interdepartmental teaming. Teachers are able to collaborate for improved teaching and learning. Resource rooms, team planning spaces and flexible scheduling allow students to work on small and large group activities easily.
- Provide equity in programs and services for K-5 students. Three elementary schools located throughout the community provide equity in programs and services for K-5 students because of a better balance in enrollment.
Transition and Implementation Teams
The implementation and transition teams addressed the educational programs to be provided within the new facilities. Teams included the middle school model implementation team, the high school enhancement research study group, the alternative education enhancement implementation team and the elementary education transition team.
The teams were responsible for determining the issues to be addressed as the planning for the enhancements continued and establishing timelines to reach the goals. They also served as liaisons to communicate with their colleagues about the efforts.
Elementary Education Transition Team
Elementary transition team members determined criteria to assist the district in teacher placements at the three elementary schools. The transition team also focused on the programs and services offered in each school, curriculum, redistribution of furniture and equipment, and parent involvement.
Middle School Model Implementation Team
Members of the middle school implementation team established a timeline for their efforts to implement the middle school model at the new school when it opened in the fall of 2004. The team defined the broad philosophy of the middle school and developed the middle school’s mission statement. The mission is to provide a safe and supportive learning environment that meets the unique academic, social, emotional and physical needs of young adolescents.
The team studied preadolescent and adolescent development, determined curricular options and the school schedule, and discussed advisory programs, middle school teams, transition issues, and program assessment. Another undertaking of the Middle School Model Implementation Team was the creation of a professional development opportunity for grades 6-8 teachers. The professional development model was developed in collaboration with Minnesota State University Moorhead.
In January 2004, the School Board approved the Middle School Implementation Team’s recommendations regarding the middle school curriculum, scheduling and philosophy for implementation in the 2004-2005 school year.
Alternative Education Enhancement Team
The alternative education enhancement team worked with high school and middle school representatives to develop “school within a school” approaches. This was designed to help reduce the placement of students at the off-site program. At the high school, it simplifies students’ movement between high school offerings and the alternative classes offered through the Red River Area Learning Center. The alternative education efforts also included further implementation of independent study options.
High School Enhancement Research Study Group
Educational enhancement efforts at Moorhead High School included the continued expansion and development of small learning communities and the ninth grade center concept. During 2001-02 a team of special education and regular education teachers formed a small learning community of ninth grade students. This incorporated multidisciplinary approaches to learning. These initial efforts were considered successful, and the approach was further implemented for all ninth grade students with the construction of a ninth grade center at the high school.
A movement toward a divisional organizational structure developed better communication, coordination and integrated instructional approaches at the high school. Renovations were designed to facilitate the pairing of math and science, English and social studies, the arts, and vocational areas. Study groups were formed to further research the academy concept.
Additionally, the team discussed and researched flexible scheduling options. In January 2004, School Board members approved the Moorhead High School Enhancement Research Study Group’s proposal. The proposal recommended changing the existing schedule to an alternative schedule which combines 45 and 90 minute periods. The proposal also addressed the increased state requirements by increasing the local requirement for graduation from 21 credits to 26 credits beginning for the class of 2007-08. The schedule and credit recommendations were implemented for the 2004-05 school year.