Calais Elementary School

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Principal's Report

Principal's Report May 2014

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – May 1, 2014

This month’s report includes some references to the 2014-2015 Continuous Improvement Plan as the preliminary work on that plan has recently been completed. The plan itself will be brought to the board in our regular meeting at the end of May. The process followed this year was a bit different for several reasons.  We were updating the previous plan rather than starting from scratch or embarking on many new projects and the timeline was moved up to better match the Consolidated Federal Grant schedule. This year’s CIP planning process was:

  • March 31 – April 11: Marissa brought last year’s CIP to regularly scheduled meetings of CES-based committees (writing, math, and PBIS); committees celebrated completed tasks, identified work left to be done, and planned SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) targets for 2014-2015 school year.
  • March 31 – April 15: Marissa entered committees’ thoughts into new CIP and fleshed out the ideas by creating progress indicators and action steps.
  • April 15 & April 17: Traditional, representative CIP committee met to discuss and amend the draft materials Marissa created. Committee members were largely the same individuals as those who served in this capacity last year.
  • April 17 – April 22: Marissa incorporated ideas from the CIP committee and completed the Title I portions of the plan (an evaluation of this year’s programming, a proposal for next year’s programming, and the documenting of explicit connections in the CIP between the CIP and the Title I proposal).
  1. Literacy

In late March, the WCSU Literacy Steering Committee met to create student achievement non-negotiables in writing. Kelly MacMartin and Marcy Larrabee participated in this work. Marcy will take over as our representative on this committee next year; she is overlapping with Kelly right now to ensure that we have someone knowledgeable of and invested in this important curriculum document as we work to implement it next year.

All six pre- and post-instruction writing prompts have been administered at this point. Three year-end summative prompts will be given in May. We look forward to seeing what kids have held onto and how they have grown throughout the year.

When the Writing Committee met to discuss the CIP, they agreed that they want to continue working on our writing assessment system next year. We have had some significant variation in the style of prompt and the tools used to score prompts throughout the year, and have not been able to draw as many conclusions from the data as we would like. The first order of business in the new CIP is for the committee to create a one page or shorter statement that articulates the purpose of and philosophy behind our writing prompt system.

  1. Mathematics

The Math Committee continues to organize work with the math practices. At the end of the year we will have pre- and post-instruction data regarding students’ knowledge of the practices. We will also have at least one data point assessing student use of the practices (based on teacher observation) for each child.

When the Math Committee met to discuss the CIP, the major focus of conversation was assessment. As you read in the data presentation last month, our local assessments are still being developed. Teachers are hungry for a mathematics assessment that provides information like the F&P does in reading. Accordingly, the new CIP has as a primary target for the development of a quarterly benchmark assessment at each grade level. We are particularly motivated to make this goal happen knowing that we will not have any state test data until the very end of the 2014-2015 school year.  Plus, next year being the very first SBAC year, it is unlikely that that data will be particularly informative.

This summer, three teachers will attend a math lab school hosted at U-32 and taught by Mahesh Sharma. This continued consistency in professional development is exciting as it brings more coordinated and effective instruction to students.

  1. School Climate

On March 20th and 21st, the seven-member PBIS Leadership Team attended a training at which we learned about and began to plan our second level of programming: Targeted Supports. Since that training, we have begun piloting a specific “Tier 2” support called Check-In/Check-Out. Students, families, and staff members have all been excited to try this more individualized yet still fairly systematic approach.

As we worked on new projects at that training, the importance of being intentional about our maintenance of the Universal Supports level or programming became clear to the team. First, the “Tier 1” level is all the support about 80% of students will get and should need; we have to be sure that those 80% are getting great programming! Second, those who need more targeted support still need a general context that is positive, consistent, and where expectations are clear. Finally, coins and celebrations grow stale for students and staff alike rather quickly; it is our responsibility to take the lead in finding strategies to keep things fresh.

In service of our mission to sustain high quality Tier 1 work, a subcommittee has taken on planning incentives for and providing reminders to distribute coins. We have also planned two mandatory all staff meetings. The first was held on April 9th and aimed at providing some theoretical background about the function of behavior to build common language around why students behave the way they do. The second was held on April 30th and focused on creating common understanding of key categories of problem behaviors (where is the line between disruption and disrespect, for example) and reviewing procedures and expectations for filling out office referral forms.

The PBIS Leadership Team found that the new CIP should be highly similar; we just needed to update the tier numbers. Instead of working toward eligibility to attend a Tier 2 training (goal=achieved!), we will work toward eligibility to attend a Tier 3 training. Rather than working toward a high energy, successful roll-out of Universal Supports (Tier 1), we will plan a great roll-out of Targeted Supports (Tier 2).

At our final April meeting, the Washington Central Leadership Team planned for a slightly updated climate survey to be administered in May. As usual, there will be surveys for families, students, and staff members. Students will complete paper surveys. Staff members and families will have both a paper and an online option. The new CIP includes plans for the CIP Committee to reconvene once we have the results to analyze the data and make changes to the plan as needed. We will also work toward the 2013-2014 CIP’s goals for participation: 80% for families, 95% for students and staff.

  1. NECAP Scores and Special Education Presentation

Per the Board’s request, there will be a special education presentation at the start of the May 1st meeting. The special education staff is excited to provide some background about our numbers, services, and staffing as well as sharing the celebrations and next steps they have found in the NECAP data and in our own local assessments. We are also looking forward to a test that is administered later in the school year as our special education students are often our most vulnerable to summer regression.

We have time in the agenda to touch base on this topic. Given that there was not an opportunity to discuss the PowerPoint presentation in March, Charlotte, Marissa, and Bill decided to hold some time at the May meeting to answer any questions and spend a little time making sure there is common understanding. Marissa is hoping folks can come with any questions as well as a brief description of the one to three trends they found most noteworthy.

  1. Other
  2. Technology

The new CIP includes several references to technology, to ensure that staff members are ready to use data analysis and intervention planning tools that we plan to develop.  Jill and Marissa are working to hold trainings to bring everyone up to speed on Google Apps. Google tools are a great platform for collaboration, but many staff members have yet to explore them. The trainings aim to break down simple barriers such as: which browser to use; how to find and bookmark sites;  how to link one’s Google email to one’s regular U-32 email; and to develop proficiency in using apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Sites.

The CIP also includes plans to develop a scope and sequence of basic computer and typing skills for students in grades K-6. This is largely driven by the fact that the spring 2015 SBAC will be administered on computers. We want to be sure that technology proficiency is not a barrier to completing the assessment; in part because we always want our scores to be good, but largely because we want students to feel confident and successful on these and all other assessments.

  1. Facilities

The packet includes information about the roof bid. Because our current finances make it possible to complete the roof repairs in one summer, we put the project out to bid. You’ll note that the bid spec was to do the roof over sections 2-5. Section 1 was completed last summer and Section 6 is just five years old.

In the next report, Jason and Marissa will provide a preview of the summer projects.

 

Principal's Report February 2014

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – February 12, 2014

  1. Literacy

The post-instruction informational text prompt will happen on February 18th. We used a recent FFF afternoon to plan the prompt. There was a great conversation about the purpose of the prompt. The group debated questions like whether students should be able to choose any topic or respond to a specific piece of text and whether students should have the notes they took with support, not have notes, or only notes they took completely independently. We are looking forward to seeing the results of this prompt, especially since the final text type, opinion/argument pieces, has so many of the same features as informational text.

Midyear F&P scores are in. We have not had a chance to do an in-depth analysis, but currently 87% of students tested are at or above grade level. We are looking forward to analyzing trends in comprehension scores, fluency scores, student growth, impact of interventions, and many other areas.

Marissa will update the Continuous Improvement Plan site soon. We are mindful of the goals around summer regression prevention.  We are looking forward to crunching the NECAP numbers and getting those results up there.

  1. Mathematics

Our January in-service time provided two big chunks of time during which teachers were able to connect to talk about, exchange and create resources for teaching mathematics. On Monday the 20th, teachers met in SU-wide grade-alike groups. This time was fabulous! Each group was led by teachers who serve on the Math Steering Committee. The 5th through 8th grade teachers met together in a nice continuation of work that began with summer lab schools and our clinical rounds with Mahesh Sharma.

Our time as a building-based crew on Tuesday the 21st yielded some great products including student-friendly versions of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice and two ways of assessing math practices (Do students know the practices? And, do students engage in the practices?). The math committee has just collated the results of the pre-instruction version of our “Do students know the practices?” assessment. We look forward to working together to introduce the practices to students and vertically align our expectations and priorities.

You will find a whole packet about math in the board packet. Marissa, Kate, Mary, and Kelly look forward to discussing this packet and more at the meeting!

  1. School Climate

At our January All School Morning Meeting on the 25th, we introduced two new ways in which we will recognize positive behavior through our PBIS program. The first of these involves deputizing three or four students per day to be “First Mates.” These first mates will be given a bandana arm band and several “I caught you being good” coupons. Throughout the day they will pass out those coupons, which their schoolmates will then trade in to teachers for coins. All students in grades K-6 will have a turn as we cycle through the roster in the coming weeks. Students are showing an extra level of pride as they trade in their tickets for coins.

The second new recognition method is a “booster” system to help address a target area. We are targeting the hallways by distributing gold bars – that take up the same amount of space as about six of the regular coins – when we see students following the Keys to Success in the halls. Kids are particularly excited about these bars as a deal was struck: if they earn at least 100 of these before Beach Day (February 21st), one of the stations at the event will be pie throwing… into teachers’ faces (only of those who volunteer, of course!). We are planning to enhance the traditional Beach Day offerings to make it an All School Celebration-caliber event.

  1. Other
  2. Facilities

We’ve certainly had some crummy luck on the plumbing front lately! The burst pipe issue that resulted in school being closed on Monday, January 27th has been resolved for the remainder of the school year. A longer term fix will be necessary over the summer. Financially, we have been fortunate in that Jason and Rich have been able to provide the extra set of hands for the plumber, so the cost of labor is low. Michelle Ksepka has filed a claim and is working with our insurance company. At this time, we do not expect that the expense will be greater than our $5,000 deductible.

The issue on Thursday, February 6th was unrelated, but similar in its impact on the water supply. In this case, a fitting on a pipe leading off of our well holding tank broke, preventing water from being piped into the building. We were able to hold school as students had already begun arriving when the issue was discovered. Thanks to a truckload of water coolers from U-32, we were able to flush toilets with buckets and had plenty of safe drinking water on hand.

Before the end of the year, we will install new parking lot lights. These will be highly efficient LED lights that use less energy while casting a much wider and brighter glow.

  1. NECAP Scores

We are planning to have the annual NECAP presentation assembled by the end of the first week of March. We will get this out to board members as soon as it is completed. This will allow us to spend our meeting time discussing and analyzing the data as requested after last year’s presentation.

 


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