ThoughtExchange Themes on Graduates

Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates – Parents, staff, students and community weigh in

As the district wraps up a successful 2017-22 Strategic Plan, the Board of Directors is seeking broad stakeholder input as they prepare for the future. Tuesday, June 7 Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith discussed the steps the district would take as part of a comprehensive, year-long Strategic Planning Process to develop the district's next Strategic Plan.

The process started this spring and will continue throughout next school year. He reported the district will engage parents, staff, students and community extensively to seek input.

Last month the district kicked off their efforts by launching an introductory ThoughtExchange survey for all stakeholders. The survey asked the community to weigh in on what they feel were the most important skills and attributes Walla Walla Public Schools’ graduates must gain during their public school years in preparation for success after high school.

This new ThoughtExchange interactive tool allows respondents to share their thoughts, as well as review and prioritize ideas shared by others. The survey was confidential and offered in multiple languages. A total of 436 participants joined the exchange, shared 253 thoughts and provided nearly 9000 ratings. Of the participants, nearly 25% were parents, 24% were employees, 39% were students, and 12% were community members. Nearly 10% consisted of Spanish speaking households.

Thoughts shared were vast, but several themes appeared according to Superintendent Smith.

"Accountability, respect, problem-solving and other 'soft skills' like responsibility and work ethic rose to the top across all survey respondents," said Dr. Smith. "Making sure our graduates were prepared for life beyond high school, addressing life-long assets such as financial management, understanding taxes and perseverance were rated the highest from participants."

The district's Strategic Planning process will ramp up this fall with more ThoughtExchange surveys, community engagement activities, focus group discussions and staff and student input sessions. The school board plans to have a draft Strategic Plan ready for public viewing in December with the plan finalized in March. The final plan will help the school board set funding priorities and will go into effect at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

To learn more about the district’s Strategic Planning development process, or to review the recent ThoughtExchange results, visit the district’s website at: https://www.wwps.org/strategicplan

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