Standard 3

Teaching and Assessing for Learning

The school’s curriculum, instruction design and assessment practices guide and ensure teacher effectiveness and student learning.

To access the Soldotna High School Faculty presentation for Standard 3 click Standard 3 Video.


In order to effectively serve an eclectic student body, Soldotna High School provides a full spectrum of learning environments that offer challenging and equitable programs to students of all abilities. These strategies include ensuring that similar classes have similar learning expectations, evidenced by the course catalog and grading scale. A comparison of two Advanced Algebra syllabi used by two different math teachers demonstrates the equivalence of the learning opportunities and expectations of each course (Advanced Algebra Syllabus Merkes and Advanced Algebra Syllabus Minogue ). Courses have also been modified for groups of students with certain skill sets. For example, students who struggle with math are placed in Algebra A, a course that covers the materials in an academic year that Algebra covers in a semester. This modification ensures the success of a wider range of students.

While maintaining high expectations of every member of the student body, some learning opportunities are modified for individual students. Teachers decide what activities can be tailored to individuals based on their curriculum and what they deem necessary for student success. One method teachers use to differentiate assignments involves the use of technology to make additional resources available to students and to provide tools to assist student learning at school and at home. All teachers utilize PowerSchool to keep students informed of their progress and many upload additional classroom videos and assignments to PowerSchool or employ classroom websites to provide additional help to students. For example, language arts teacher Matt Walton has developed specific class websites  for each of his English courses which provide practice and additional resources to students. Another example of differentiation through technology is evident in Spanish I where each student conferences with the teacher after the first exam and receives an individualized plan to help clarify any areas of confusion (Spanish I Post Unit Test Tutorial System). Additional websites, such as Gameguroo by Teachers Discovery are used by the Spanish Department and allow students to self-select activities and concentrate on materials as needed. One example of a Spanish project that has been modified to encompass a variety of learning styles is the Spanish I Semester Project, which allows students to write and perform a puppet show, a research essay, a song, or a children’s story based on their strengths.

Many teachers also offer additional help after school to students that require one-on-one tutoring, providing those students with the same opportunity to succeed as their classmates. An additional strategy for providing equitable and challenging learning experiences is employed at the administrator level: our principal and vice-principal make regular visits to classrooms to perform teacher evaluations and to ensure that instruction is engaging and challenging students to excel.


Soldotna High School reviews curricula in all content areas every five years to ensure that student instructional needs and state standards are being met. Along with curriculum review and modification, staff members closely examine test scores and adjust curricula to meet the needs of students. Examples include the math department’s development of a pre and post measurement test to address gaps in this area on the Standard Based Assessment (PreTest – Measurement and Measurement Post Test). Language arts teachers on staff have created a test specifically to combat low test scores in sentence fluency (Walton Sent Type Cheat Sheet). Instructors use a variety of formal and informal assessment methods to review student learning; these methods are outlined in class syllabi. As other disciplines such as science and social studies move through curriculum review, common assessments similar to those used in math and English will be incorporated into those courses. Staff will continue to conduct Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to address student progress and collaborate on the design and adjustment of classroom strategies. Notes from these meetings will be used to address concerns with instruction and assessment in the classroom.


At Soldotna High School, we are proud of our outstanding student engagement. Our teachers use a variety of techniques to engage students in the material being studied. Soldotna High School teachers use real-world, applicable examples in the classroom such as the Infant Care Simulation project in Child Development where electronic infants are sent home with student for several days. Students who participate in the Caring For The Kenai Project apply their learning to real-world situations by drafting ideas as to how to improve our community. Teachers also employ strategies to engage the multiple intelligences, an example of which is the use of songs in the Spanish program to aid in memorization and rhythmic activities such as chanting the months of the year (Senor Wooly Website). In language arts classes, students can show what they know through a variety of media such as collages and skits.

Soldotna High School teachers also use technology to increase engagement: our Family and Consumer Science program uses an iPad cart, most teachers design and maintain class websites that provide additional resources and material to supplement in-class work, and SMART Boards are used throughout the school (I Pad use and Spanish Website). The language arts department uses Pearson Successnet to access all textbook related materials, including online tests and quizzes. Pearson Successnet allows students to access reading materials at home without hauling heavy textbooks back and forth. Many students are technology-oriented and can perform better with online resources.

KPBSD also subscribes to Discovery Education and Teacher Discovery which provide a wide variety of media to engage students: online flashcards, games, practice quizzes, music videos, songs, and other dynamic applications. Many individual teachers use their advanced technological skills to create their own videos and other interactive media designed specifically for the use of their students.

Our staff maintains and improves our technological skills and tools through continual in-service and professional development opportunities. A 2012 in-service featured teachers exploring different ideas for classroom websites by forming small workshops and making presentations to the group. Two teachers presented on making video presentations with SMART Notebook software and microphones, and the library purchased a wireless microphone for check out to teachers for the production of videos for their classrooms.

Our administration provides support for the high level of student engagement at our school. Administrators consistently monitor the level of engagement by participating in annual or biannual teacher evaluations. Soldotna High School administrators use A Framework for Teaching by Charlotte Danielson to inform the administration of evaluations. 


Soldotna High School teachers are routinely monitored and supported through formal and informal evaluations by the administration. Tenured teachers can choose to be part of a Teachers Enrichment Pathway (TEP) which allows for a plan that leads to the improvement of an instructional practice. As part of the evaluation process, teachers have a pre- and post-evaluation conference with the evaluator during which they engage in a healthy discussion of instructional practices. These conferences offer teachers the opportunity to discuss strengths and weaknesses in their teaching strategies and to gain insight from the observations of a colleague. In addition to these evaluations, administrators are required to complete a series of short visits to the classroom to observe the teacher in his or her element. Administrators at Soldotna High School also keep teachers abreast of topic-relevant resources that may be of use in their classrooms by sending links to online materials or leaving printed materials in their mailboxes (Scholarship Handout). This collaborative and supportive relationship between teachers and administrators at Soldotna High School directly contributes to success in our classrooms.


Soldotna High School staff members regularly meet in collaborative learning communities, called Soldotna Learning Teams (SLTs), to improve instruction and student learning. Over the past few years, meetings have been held within subject areas, across grade levels, and they occur every two weeks. SLTs focus on students and student learning, addressing topics ranging from determining the format of parent/teacher conferences to coming up with strategies to help an individual student understand a concept or score higher on a test. Time in SLTs is also dedicated to collaborative efforts among grade levels to ensure that students moving from grade to grade receive seamless coordination of state standard concepts within a discipline.

This year the Soldotna High School Staff will participate in training to learn the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model to work more efficiently. PLCs will ensure that standards are collectively understood by staff, similar lessons are performed by students, and common assessments are developed for classes.

The Soldotna High School staff is a very professional group that is avidly engaged daily in determining how to best engage, motivate, educate, and promote students. Although this effort is difficult to quantify, it has a clear, observable, and positive impact on students who pass through this institution.


Staff members of Soldotna High School design instructional strategies based on state standards, assess student success along the way, and give feedback to students to help improve understanding of concepts and performance on the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE). Soldotna High School staff members have been responsible for addressing the Alaska State Standards, especially in reading, writing, and math, and have worked well together to identify students at risk, to address those individual students’ needs, and to improve the understanding and performance of the student group as a whole.

Soldotna Learning Teams (SLTs) are comprised of teachers from the same or similar disciplines who regularly meet to discuss student scores on state exams, determine which standards are being met and which require more support, evaluate the effectiveness of curricula and sequencing as a whole, and identify specific students who are struggling with major concepts. SLTs use this information to make the alterations to curricula and sequencing that will best improve student understanding and performance.

Soldotna High School staff are currently training in the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model to maximize the efficacy of time spent in collaboration. The mathematic and language arts departments have developed quarterly common assessments that are aligned at a district level to determine the progress of student learning in similar courses. These assessments were designed with the intention of familiarizing students with the language and format of the HSGQE and as an assessment of the performance of students on Grade Level Expectations. All content-specific departments will transition to this model in the 2013-14 school year with the goal of unpacking and applying state standards for each discipline.


All staff members at Soldotna High School are passionate lifelong learners and benefit from the expectation and encouragement to continue developing their skills to improve instruction of our students. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) has scheduled 10 in-services over the course of the school year; these in-services provide time to address topics pertinent to instructional practices. KPBSD also provides days to collaborate with common core teachers from around the district. Another option for staff development that is not required but available is Professional Development Coaches. We have several coaches in our district who are knowledgeable in various areas of expertise and work with groups or one-on-one to support our staff improvement. All teachers go through an annual evaluation process that is also designed to improve instruction. Evaluations not only give the administration a snapshot of what each teacher is doing in the classroom, but post evaluation conferences allow individualized feedback to be given to the teacher. Tenured faculty members have the option to develop a TEP Plan, or Teacher Enrichment Pathway Plan. The TEP Plan is proactive and often includes other staff who work together to develop their respective programs. Soldotna High School also employs an informal mentoring structure among teachers, which allows for each teacher to have someone they can count on for advice, support and camaraderie.


Soldotna High School provides families with multiple ways of staying informed of their children’s learning progress. Each semester begins with academic plans going home to parents to read, sign, and return. These academic plans spell out the expectations for each class, provide contact information for the teacher, course descriptions, and what the student is expected to accomplish during the class. Shortly after the school year begins, an open house is held so parents can meet with the teachers in an informal setting. Parent/Teacher Conferences are held each semester to allow for more personal and focused discussion of student progress. Parents are encouraged to call, email, or visit with teachers whenever they deem necessary. Soldotna High School staff arranges intervention meetings with parents when students are in need of even more help to ensure that student’s success at Soldotna High School. Parents have the ability to check on their student’s grades at any time through the use of our online grade reports in PowerSchool, which are updated automatically when a teacher enters a new grade. KPBSD maintains web pages for all schools in the district, and our school’s home page is kept current on all announcements and activities concerning Soldotna High School. An automated phone system is also used regularly to call specified groups of students and parents for reminders or for informational purposes.


Soldotna High School has developed many strategies to assist student in achieving high standards. An integral part of student success at Soldotna High School is the importance placed upon every student’s access to a caring adult advocate. Our advisory program provides that access. Each student is assigned to an advisory class facilitated by one staff member; the student will remain with that advisory teacher throughout their four years at our institution. Advisory meets every day during 3rd hour for fourteen minutes; most sessions are informal interactions between the advisory teacher and the student with a general set agenda, with one or two days per week set aside to discuss grades and academic achievement with each student in detail (SoHi Bell Schedule). During these one-on-one interactions, the teacher and student discuss the positive and negative aspects of student’s grades and work together to devise a plan to build on strengths and improve weaknesses. After four years of this contact, a good rapport is built up between teacher and student, giving the student the confidence that he or she has at least one adult who knows them well and who they can approach and trust to advocate for them.

In addition to the Advisory Program, Soldotna High School has several other programs that connect students with adult advocates. The Intervention Program is coordinated by a team of staff members that identifies at-risk students and arranges meetings with teachers, students and guardians to discuss a plan for success (Iteam Refferal Form). The A-Team is part of the Soldotna High School Acceleration Plan, which helps support students, especially seniors, in achieving their academic and long-term goals (A-Plan Program 12-13). The Resource Program advocates for students with IEPs, or Individualized Education Plans. Students with intensive needs have the support and advocacy of the Intensive Needs Program (Special Services and Intensive needs). Adopt-A-Star is a program created by Soldotna High School staff that allows staff members to adopt a student who has been identified as needing an adult advocate.


All staff at Soldotna High School are required to provide a syllabus to each student and have each student’s parent or guardian sign a verification sheet stating they have read the syllabus and understand the grading and reporting policies. Each syllabus clearly describes grading policies and explains the course objectives in terms of the attainment of content knowledge and development of skills (Advanced Algebra Syllabus Merkes and Advanced Algebra Syllabus Minogue ). KPBSD recently adopted the common core standards for math and language arts which has included new curricula and quarterly assessments aligned with the standards. The goal of these tests (Writing Quarterly assessment) is to insure that students attain content knowledge and skills that are consistent across grade levels and courses, and in line with the district and state standards. Each year a new curriculum is up for review and adoption and with these adoptions will come quarterly assessments. Soldotna High School staff is also required to report grades weekly to students and parents by posting grades to an online grade book on PowerSchool.


All staff members at Soldotna High School participate in a continuous program of professional learning. This occurs at many levels and in various ways. Many teachers have earned post-graduate credits and degrees as a means of improving instruction in their own classrooms, advancing their own careers and pedagogical skills.  And, while the State requires continuing education as a component of recertification and KPBSD provides district-wide in-service training nearly 10 times each school year, the premier professional learning program at Soldotna High School is the Soldotna Learning Team (SLT). There are four SLTs, each built around core content areas, which bring teachers of language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, fine arts, business, industrial arts and special services together as cohesive, collaborative learning teams with the intention of improving instruction, addressing student needs and ensuring academic success. As seen in the attached SLT Agenda, improving student performance on standards-based assessments is at the core of these teams. Numerous approaches for improving student achievement are analyzed prior to adoption. Following this collaborative analysis, certain strategies are implemented throughout the school including class activities, tutoring sessions and individualized preparation for high stakes tests. The effectiveness of SLT’s are annually evaluated. 


Soldotna High School has a robust and on-going process of identifying and supporting the unique learning needs of all students. Students entering Soldotna High School may have been identified by previous schools as requiring individualized attention, in which case, school personnel are in a better position to offer educational support to these students. Students at Soldotna High School may be identified as needing instructional support through our Intervention Team. Managed by the counseling staff, the Intervention Team uses the “Acceleration Plan” form to identify at-risk students (A-Plan Program 12-13). The needs of at-risk students are met using various techniques including the following: support during after-school tutoring sessions with volunteer peer tutors or paid staff; special needs services offered to students during the regular day in a study skills class; access to a resource paraprofessional who shadows the student throughout the school day; and participation in a team-taught classroom. The most intensive environment in which students with special learning needs receive services is in pull-out programs where student might attend all or some of their classes in individualized or nearly individualized settings. One method by which staff members are kept current on the various, unique learning characteristics of students is through yearly in-service trainings.  Our special needs staff are very adept at not only keeping teachers informed of students with learning differences, but are regularly present in classrooms providing instructional support alongside teachers, as evidenced by the various team-taught classes in the school’s schedule.