‘RRR’ makes a difference at CIHS

By Rachel Kytonen

Since June 2010, the Cambridge-Isanti High School has embraced the Rigor, Relevance and Relationships model framework  to improve the quality of education at the high school.

During the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting Thursday, March 24, Pam Austad from Cambridge-Isanti High  School, shared the school’s journey toward the RRR framework.

CIHS students Katie Anderson and Sam Samsa talk about what they’ve learned, and the hands-on opportunities they have had through the Exploring Childhood and Childhood Development curriculum offered at CIHS. Photos by Rachel Kytonen

Austad explained the RRR was embedded into the high school following the Model Schools Conference in June 2010.

Components of the RRR framework at the high school included:

• CORR – Collaborating Online for Rigor and Relevance.

• Quadrant D Lessons – High application, high rigor.

• Surveys – Data driven decision-making.

• Focus – Where are we going and how do we get there.

The RRR framework also consists of Content Literacy Continuum (CLC), which Austed explained is research based literacy strategies for all students.

She explained the RRR framework had faculty representation from each department, instructional coaches and principal. Its focus was to increase student learning and achievement.

Austed said a three-year plan was developed, along with a vision. The vision statement agreed upon by the leadership team was “students will develop and apply strategic literacy skills for the 21st century while building positive character.”

CIHS student Jonathan Head displays some of the projects he has made through science classes at CIHS.

As a result of the RRR framework, Austad said more time is spend on faculty development, and more professional dialogue.

“The idea of this focus is to increase student achievement and learning,” Austad said.

The RRR is a process, and Austad said the journey will continue through the following:

• Rigor, Relevance, and Relationship framework as we continue with CORR.

• Increase use and development of Quadrant D lessons.

• Leadership Learning Team to devise three-year plan centered around raisin student achievement.

• Embed literacy strategies for all students.

• Faculty focus as professional development.

Student voices support for Mitch Clausen

Student Kyle Johnson took a few minutes to speak before the board regarding Principal Mitch Clausen, who has been on paid administrative leave since July 2010.

Johnson, who said he was speaking on behalf of the student body at CIHS, questioned the length the process is taking.

“Some of the people I talk with at the school say this has been blown out of proportion,” Johnson said. “A lot of us think Mr. Clausen was a good guy—some don’t—but I personally think he should come back.”

Johnson said a lot of people feel the process should be wrapped up by now.

“I don’t think Mr. Clausen should be at home worrying about his job,” Johnson said. “A lot of us are getting frustrated with how long this process is taking.”

Brandon Eich serves up a delicious tray of truffles to school board member Lynn Wedlund. Brandon is enrolled in the ProStart program at CIHS. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

Johnson said he personally doesn’t understand why Clausen was put on paid administrative leave because he missed three hours of four-day conference in Orlando, Fla. in June 2010.

“I understand it was more than just Mr. Clausen who took time off during the conference,” Johnson said. I don’t understand why he is just getting the finger pointed at him.”

Board Chair Gary Hawkins said the board wouldn’t comment on the matter, but thanked Johnson for sharing his opinion with the board.

In other action the board:

• Superintendent Bruce Novak reported students will need to report to school April 25 for a make-up snow day.

• Approved a bid of $458,000 from Peterson Sheet Metal for the HVAC upgrades at the Education Center. The project will begin in June.

• Approved a bid of $151,943 from Knife River Corporation from transportation building site improvements.