Mr. Ryan Groen
Quest for Excellence
Ontario Christian’s vision is to be a top tier academic institution in Southern California. We will reach this goal by helping each student to reach his or her highest academic potential. Ontario Christian has been blessed with excellent faculty and staff. So, the question comes to mind: “How do you improve a good school that already has wonderful teachers?” We believe there are three big steps that will move Ontario Christian from good to great in the area of student academic achievement:
- First, we need to gather reliable data on student progress.
- Second, we need to create and prioritize time for teachers to analyze and interpret this data so that they can better understand student academic needs.
- Third, we need to develop a process and organize teachers into teams so that they can effectively use what they learn from the data to design and implement instructional strategies that improve student learning.
Gather Reliable Data
We have been actively working to gather reliable data. In early 2012, Ontario Christian moved away from the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and adopted Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). Rather than a static, paper and pencil test every other spring with ITBS, students in 1st through 8th grade now take a dynamic, computer based test every fall and spring. This gives faculty current data on every student at the beginning and end of each school year. At the high school level, we continue to gather SAT and ACT test data along with AP test results.
Create and Prioritize Time
How does a school find more time for teachers to analyze and interpret data? Here are a few things we have done at Ontario Christian. We started by a revision of the entire elementary school schedule. The new vision had two main priorities: First, we carved out dedicated times for Language Arts and Math to make sure that we gave these subjects the time that they need. Second, we organized special classes in a way that allows all of the teachers from each grade level to be available for meetings at the same time. This process continues this year as we look at ways to optimize the schedule for focused grade level team meetings. At the middle school, we are utilizing grade level team time for this work. At the high school, we have instituted a one-hour late start each Thursday morning. High School teachers actually come in earlier on Thursday each week and spend focused time working in their departments.
Develop a Process
In August 2013, the administration introduced the concept of Professional Learning Communities to the faculty at Ontario Christian. Then, in collaboration with faculty, we developed a specific process for gathering additional data, interpreting this data, and making changes to instruction accordingly. Faculty work in grade level teams or subject area teams to better understand and then improve student learning. We believe this strategy is going to be extremely beneficial to students in the coming years as faculty continually analyze and improve the quality of instruction.
As Ontario Christian aims to be a top tier academic institution, here are a few other notable projects and priorities:
- A new math program, Singapore Math, has been adopted by the elementary school and will be implemented in K-6 next school year. We are excited to use these resources as a part of the broader effort to bring our math instruction to the next level.
- The Innovations for Learning Initiative continues to move forward as we will have Chromebooks for every student in Middle School and High School by August 2014. This technology will provide many new learning opportunities for our students by exponentially increasing the learning resources available and by dramatically increasing student engagement.
- We continue to be dedicated to a well-rounded education at OC. Although we are going to work hard to be top tier in core academics, we remain committed to providing excellent opportunities for our students in arts and athletics. For some examples of the many achievements of our students in these areas, check out our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/ocschools.
Thank you for your support of the work of Growing Christian Leaders! From 1944 to 2014, God has been faithful to Ontario Christian, and His faithfulness has often been demonstrated most visibly through the strong support of our parents and constituents!