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Lower Merion School District


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Strategic Plan

This collection of questions and answers are intended to provide additional clarification about the District's strategic plan. These FAQs will be added to the strategic planning section of the District website.

Q: How will the plan be implemented during the 2014-15 school year?

A: We will devote time during the remainder of this school year to sharing the plan widely in the community and familiarizing stakeholders with its contents. We will convene students, parents, educators and community members in a variety of forums to engage in facilitated and spontaneous dialogue about the plan. The goal is to develop a growing team of "ambassadors" who take the plan into the community and foster ownership across stakeholder groups. Through socializing the plan, we will begin to identify potential learning journey opportunities that are needed to know more about how to achieve the foundational shifts. We will simultaneously begin to identify systemic barriers to the foundational shifts and consider ways to minimize or eliminate them going forward. We will establish timelines that identify critical milestones we believe would indicate progress towards the foundational shifts. Through this communication process, we believe innovative ideas will surface to further develop or expand existing practices and programs within the District that align with the plan's strategic intent or design promising prototypes to test if new approaches achieve projected outcomes.

It is also our intention to reconvene the steering committee in the spring for the purpose of advising the District on its plan for implementation.

Q: How does the special education plan align with the plan?

A: This compliance-based document was collaboratively created during the 2013-14 school year and is part of the District's comprehensive plan. Beyond the requirements that compliance demands, the District's strategic plan embeds goals, rationale, strategies and metrics that we believe will help all students to move forward as a consequence of its focus on individualized holistic growth, shared accountability, planning for students' high-quality post secondary, employment and independent living outcomes, inclusive instructional practices and professional learning.

Q: What does this plan look like at the elementary level?

A: We believe all of the bold statements of strategic intent and foundational shifts have implications that will benefit students K-12. Our plan will be implemented in a developmentally- appropriate manner.

Q: How are traditional measures of academic achievement identified in this plan?

A: Assessments, such as the PSSA, Keystone, SAT and ACT, are traditional metrics to measure academic achievement. We believe these assessments serve a purpose and will continue to have value as one measure of growth. A distinction of this strategic plan is that we want to not only continue to measure academic achievement through standardized measures, but also develop ways to define, measure and report growth more holistically so students have a more complete sense of their personal development.

Q: How does this plan intend to eliminate achievement gaps?

A: All Forward, the strategic plan's title, is a declaration of our commitment to achieving real, meaningful results for all students, especially those from historically underrepresented groups. We are deeply invested in eliminating achievement gaps and we believe we have a moral imperative to do so. This plan is rooted in our journey towards better understanding of the impact of race and culture on learning and our commitment to increase our competence in engaging all students in their learning. We believe this plan advances institutionalized cultural proficiency because of its focus on redefining success and re-framing deficit thinking, multiple perspectives in the curriculum, increased opportunities for student voice, choice and direction and well-defined partnerships within the community.

Q: What are fiscal implications of this plan?

A: This plan was designed with existing fiscal parameters in mind. We recognize that resources are limited. Long-term sustainability of the District requires strategic fiscal decisions, greater efficiency and prioritization of funding for programs most consistent with successful implementation of the plan. Additionally, the plan provides new strategies, such as leveraging our existing expertise to generate revenue, exploring alternative revenue sources and expanding community partnerships that enhance the LMSD experience. The District takes very seriously the need to maintain and strengthen the quality of its schools while exercising fiscal restraint.

Q: What is the role of technology in this plan?

A: Our district is privileged to have advanced instructional resources and a sophisticated technical infrastructure and communication network. We consider this to be one of our strengths, and as such, we intend to leverage technology to help us achieve the foundational shifts we seek to transform curriculum, support student-driven schools, and redesign professional learning. While not stand-alone in our plan, technology is embedded in many strategies. It should also be noted that educational programs geared towards 21st century skills, particularly with regard to STEM fields, are prioritized and valued in this pan.

Q: What are challenges to the plan?

A: Potential challenges to the plan include identifying systemic barriers and developing ways to minimize or eliminate them. Potential barriers/challenges may include limited financial resources, continuing enrollment growth, collective bargaining, and legal parameters.