SPS Choice is a term utilized to describe the variety of programs developed over the years that provide additional learning options for students at Springfield Public Schools. SPS Choice is choice within the public school setting. Though this term was developed to communicate stakeholder input from the strategic planning process during the 2006-2007 school year, the process of meeting a variety of learning styles based on stakeholder input can be traced to past non-mandated program implementations such as the International Baccalaureate programs at Boyd, Field, Pipkin, Rountree and Central, and the establishment of the Phelps Center for the Gifted to address the needs of our gifted student population.
Following the input of a community-wide strategic planning process during the 2006-2007 school year, the district’s strategic plan, SP5, was launched in August 2007. Through the process of stakeholder input it was determined that programs related to workforce development, science and math, and more programs with academic rigor in general, were top priorities for the majority of our key stakeholder groups. In addition, offerings in the area of fine arts and related specialized programs received significant support.
Key findings from the input process revealed that 50% of our teachers would prefer to teach in a specialized or focused program and that around 25% of our current parental population would prefer these types of programs as well. Thus a goal was established in SP5 to address this stakeholder input by providing the option for 25% of the student population to participate in a SPS Choice program by 2019. This percentage and target could be adjusted based on future input as the possibility of future interest grows.
Currently the student population enrolled in SPS Choice Schools represents around 11% of the total student population.
Based on the tremendous interest and success of past and current SPS Choice programs, planning for future options will be critical. As the potential for additional requests for programs increases, it will be important to maintain the flexibility in the system that was an important component of existing successful SPS Choice programs, as well as provide a very basic process and set of parameters to guide future SPS Choice programs. To achieve success in these two areas, the development of future SPS Choice programs will take into consideration the following general areas:
- Current and future stakeholder support for the proposed program.
- Accountability measurements that align with the district’s strategic plan and reflect the uniqueness of the proposed program.
- Facility to house proposed program currently maintains a learning environment conducive to the success of the proposed program or budgeted and board-approved funds to address building enhancements.
- Consideration of overall existing and future SPS Choice programs as related to location and focus as to maximize the accessibility of SPS Choice to students interested in participation.
- Proposed programs have clearly stated goals and evaluation mechanisms in place to demonstrate the program’s success and to determine future support.