Calais Elementary School

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Principal's Report

Principal's Report January 2015

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – January 15, 2015

Link to the current Continuous Improvement Plan:

  1. Literacy

We are in the midst of the winter reading benchmark window. Students in grades 1-3 will be assessed using the Fountas & Pinnell benchmark system. Reading of students in grades 4-6 will be measured using a new assessment system, the DRA-2 (Developmental Reading Assessment -2nd Edition). As noted in last month’s report, this assessment provides more accurate and actionable information for students who are reading at high levels in 4th through 8th grades. It will also provide for more consistency and thus a smoother transition as students move from elementary to middle school. As always, we are very much looking forward to celebrating the great progress our students have made so far this year!

We have a number of in-service days coming up. On Monday, January 19th, teachers will meet in grade- or subject-alike teams for the morning; they will have their contract-mandated half day of grading time in the afternoon. This will be the third time these teams have met this school year. We are thrilled to be able to have more time for colleagues to connect across the SU this year. On Tuesday, January 20th, we will have a building-based day during which we begin training for the new state assessment, the SBAC. We will also use some time on January 20th to take stock of our progress toward our CIP goals with an eye toward possible priorities for the 2015-2016 school year. Finally, on February 6th, teachers from across the SU will reconvene to analyze reading assessment data together. This will include further training on the DRA-2 for upper elementary teachers.

There are no new CIP indicators since those from November 25, 2014. The next round of indicators is for February 9, 2015. They are pasted below for your reference.

By February 9, 2015

  1. Winter F&P administered; results analyzed for class- and   school-wide trends, income/special ed status/gender trends, and individual   student needs
  2. Evidence of whole (or nearly whole) class re-teaching in areas   indicated by Fall F&P
  3. Evidence of whole (or nearly whole) class re-teaching in areas   indicated by first post-instruction writing prompt and writing conventions   formative assessment tracking tool
  4. Intervention documentation in place for students identified as   below grade level on Fall F&P
  5. December computer/typing skills assessment complete
  6.   Finalized K-6   computer/typing skills scope and sequence (by 1/5/15 as stated in goal)
  1. Mathematics

Classroom teachers spent the first Fun Fitness Friday meeting to discuss cognitive rigor and levels of proficiency in mathematics. We were fortunate to have Ellen Dorsey, WCSU Math Coach, join us for most of the afternoon. We discussed several examples of student tasks from across grade levels with an eye toward the ways to support students in reaching the deepest level of proficiency: application and communication. It was a great opportunity for colleagues to consider where students are coming from and where they are headed. We also had a great moment of celebrating when the sixth grade math teacher remarked that there are no “finger counters” in his class this year. He thanked the fifth grade teacher. She then turned and thanked the fourth grade teacher. This continued all the way down to kindergarten. Anecdotes like this hint at just how much knowledge and skill our teachers have gained in teaching mathematics in the past few years.

The in-service time we have in the coming weeks includes two opportunities for work in mathematics. First, it is expected that many of the WCSU grade-alike teams will spend time discussing priorities and strategies and mathematics. Second, as we begin prepping for the SBAC, teachers will become familiar with the types of tasks students will be asked to complete on this rigorous, computer-based assessment.

There are no new CIP indicators since those shared in November. The next set of benchmarks is due January 30th and appears below for your reference.

By January 30, 2015

  1. Second quarterly assessment administered; results analyzed for   class- and school-wide trends, income/special ed status/gender trends, and   individual student needs (goal is for 80% proficiency)
  2. Evidence of whole (or nearly whole) class re-teaching in areas   indicated by quarterly assessment
  3. Intervention documentation in place for students with identified   gaps after first quarterly assessment
  4.   Fact fluency/number   sense trackers in use
  1. School Climate

Fun Fitness Friday is up and running. We had a great first week on January 9th. Relatively reasonable temperatures and a full, if thin, covering snow meant that all groups were able to engage in their standard activities. As noted in the mathematics section, classroom teachers stayed behind to do some professional development in mathematics. This week, classroom teachers will head out and allied arts teachers will have the opportunity to collaborate and calibrate on report cards.

In the coming weeks, we will work with our point person from VTPBiS to take stock of our school-wide programming using some of their assessment and survey tools. Results of these assessments will guide us in determining whether we are ready to attend an intensive (tier three) supports training in March. We are also looking forward to an upcoming meeting with this person to spend some time reflecting on our targeted, or tier two, supports. Our small size means that a level of support that is only slightly individualized and often delivered to groups of students together is tricky – we don’t always have even two students with similar needs. We are excited for the opportunity to use this resource to gather ideas from schools similar to ours.

There are no new CIP indicators since those shared in November. The next set of benchmarks is due January 30th and appears below for your reference.

By January 30, 2015

  1. Behavior and any other relevant PBIS data shared with staff at   the end of each month via memo
  2. Second and possibly third All School Celebration complete and   successful
  3. Evidence of analysis of SWIS data and changes to Tier 1 and/or 2   supports informed by data
  4. Evidence of a second and third successful Tier 1 “Booster”   challenge
  5. SET score equal to or better than 87.5% (the score obtained in   fall 2013)
  6.   Evidence of reflection   on 1-2 co-planning and parent communication systems
  1. Other
  2. Supervision and Evaluation Update

The midyear evaluation for teachers in their first or second year in the SU is due January 15th. We are on track to have all observations, meetings, and write-ups completed on time for the four teachers in this evaluation cycle.

The next key deadline is the completion of a formal observation and the associated meetings for experienced teachers in a summative cycle. We have three teachers in this cycle and are on track to meet this deadline in all cases.

The Blue Ribbon committee met for a full day on December 16th to discuss revisions to the supervision and evaluation system. As shared in September, last year this committee guided the SU in selecting a new evaluation tool, the 2013 Danielson Rubric. Their work this school year is focused on designing a process – meetings, observations, written documents produced by both teachers and supervisors, etc. – that will most effectively leverage this new tool and lead to continuous teacher growth.

  1. Principal’s Message for Town Report

We’ve have had another great year filled with memorable special events, tremendous student growth, and significant progress toward curricular goals. We continue to see students thriving academically and socially; in the fall of 2013, our students once again outscored the state by at least 10 percentage points in both mathematics and reading on state exams. At the same time, Calais students also show great creativity in all contexts, but especially in classes like music, art, and social studies. Our work to ensure that all students experience happiness and success across all disciplines and settings would not be possible with the continued support of the Calais community. We are grateful for the volunteer hours, moral support, and, of course, funding that make each day great! On behalf of our students and staff, thank you.

Since the fall of 2012, Washington Central Supervisory Union teachers and administrators have been coming together in diverse, representative curriculum committees to develop our first guaranteed, viable PreK-12 curriculum. We currently have an overarching Curriculum Council and specific steering committees for the following content areas: literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and social curriculum. Calais Elementary School has representatives on each and every committee, meaning that an impressive percentage of our teachers are participating in these leadership opportunities. The Curriculum Council has established a definition of “curriculum” that will guide the work of each committee: “Curriculum is a standards-based continuum of agreed upon concepts, skills and habits of mind driven by the school community’s values. The curriculum framework includes the instructional practices and assessments that support student learning and the transfer of knowledge and skills to real world settings.” This definition means that the work committees engage in will address the Common Core State Standards, but not be driven by it. While the Common Core State Standards are important in our state and national context, we know from successful international and national models that there are many other things a comprehensive curriculum must include. Our current SU-wide priorities in curriculum work are developing “non-negotiables” for student achievement at each grade level in each content area and building a comprehensive local assessment system that measures a range of depths of knowledge across all content areas and grade levels.

In the spring of 2014, I worked with a committee of two teachers, one parent, and a board member to develop our Continuous Improvement Plan. As was the case in the spring of 2013, this comprehensive plan brings together the many plans we have always written – the Action Plan, Technology Plan, Title I Schoolwide Program Plan, etc. It is worth noting that things look a little different this year as the state transitions from the NECAP to a new assessment system. The full plan is updated regularly and can be found at the following web address:


Some key targets in literacy:

  • 90% will meet grade level standard on the June reading assessment; 100% of those who do not achieve grade level benchmark will demonstrate at least one year of growth.
  • Gap in proficiency in reading between students who do and do not qualify for free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) will be 10% or less in June 2015 (gap on fall 2013 NECAP was 16%).
  • 80% will write at grade level as measured by our Common Core rubrics on end-of-year prompts.

Given the current SU priority of enhancing our local assessment system, we are piloting some new reading assessments in the upper grades and working to develop software tools to allow for more thorough and prompt analysis of assessment data in all content areas. These tools will increase the frequency and efficacy of data-informed classroom instruction and intervention lessons.

We are looking forward to celebrating student growth in reading after midyear testing is completed. This fall we were thrilled to see significantly less summer regression; perhaps our first place finish in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge for the state of Vermont supported this progress! In June of 2014, all students met grade level standard or showed at least one year of growth in reading; we expect to equal or better that result this year.


Some key targets in mathematics:

  • Create and consistently use fact fluency/number sense tracker; all students will demonstrate one year of growth on these.
  • 80% will score proficient or better on internal math benchmark assessments.
  • Maintain or reduce gap in proficiency on math benchmark assessments between students who do and do not qualify for free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) in June 2015 (gap on fall 2013 NECAP was 10%).

We have recently completed the first administration of a supervisory union-wide mathematics screening tool. In the coming months we are looking forward to measuring student mastery and growth using this and other school- and SU-based tools.

School Climate

In the spring of 2014 we administered a climate survey for the first time since the fall of 2011. We celebrated significant improvement in parent and staff results, particularly on questions regarding supervision and support of student behavior and staff morale.

Our school climate work continues to focus on our development and maintenance of PBIS (positive behavior interventions and supports). This behavior management system provides a framework for creating a school-wide program that differentiates support to meet the social and emotional needs of each student. In the fall of 2014 we added targeted or Tier 2 supports to the universal programming implemented in the 2013-2014 school year. It has been great to be able to add an extra layer of support for struggling students to our school-wide system of clear expectations, regular recognition of positive behaviors, and swift and consistent responses to problem behaviors. We are on track to achieve our CIP goal of readiness for Tier 3 supports in March of 2015.


Principal's Report December 2014

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – December 18, 2014

Link to the current Continuous Improvement Plan:

  1. Literacy

Staff meetings on November 12th and 19th were dedicated to working as a large group to develop consistency in our priorities and expectations for writing conventions (basic skills ranging from letter formation and legibility to correct punctuation and capitalization to developmentally appropriate spelling). After two meetings, the writing committee left with the information they need to create our writing conventions scope and sequence and aligned formative assessment protocol and data tracker.

In late November, we embarked on the first of several new assessments that are being implemented across WCSU to beef up our local assessment plan. Our sixth graders took an online version of the Gates MacGinitie Reading Test. This screening tool was administered to students in Grades 6-10, thereby transcending the transition from elementary school to middle school and that from middle school to high school. In January, the reading skills of students in grades 4-6 will be assessed using the DRA-2. This assessment, as opposed to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment (F&P), provides more accurate and actionable information for students who are reading at high levels in 4th through 8th grade. Like the Gates MacGinitie, this is an assessment that will provide more consistency, as students move from elementary to middle school.

The CIP indicators for November 25, 2014 are listed below. Action steps for literacy will be updated in the coming weeks.

Blue/italics text = indicator that was not met

Red/underlined text   = indicator that was carried forward from previous benchmark date (Text in “Did We Make It?” column will be black/bold if   indicator has been met)

By November 25, 2014

A.    Documented scope and sequence for basic computer skills and   typing in grades 2-6 for the 2014-2015 school year (to ensure we have a plan   for minimum SBAC readiness)

B.     First pre- and post-instruction writing prompts administered;   results analyzed for class- and school-wide trends, income/special ed   status/gender trends, and individual student needs

C.     Evidence of instruction aligned to typing/computer skills scope   and sequence in grades K-6

D.     Evidence of instruction aligned to writing conventions scope and   sequence in grades K-6

E.    Formative assessment   data entered into writing conventions tracking tool for grades K-6

A.    First draft is complete. Jill is cross-referencing with other   schools. We will share with teachers in February or March (after students and   teachers complete SBAC training activities).

B.     Yes and no. Prompts were administered on time. As noted in Item   C in the box above, the data tools are still in development both at the WCSU   and school levels. Additionally, bad weather and a few instances of an urgent   need for a staff meeting have meant that the writing committee didn’t/won’t meet   from 11/13 until 1/14.

C.     As document is not yet finalized the answer can’t be a full yes.   At the same time, regular keyboarding practice is happening in grades 2-6 and   Jill is aware of technology skills needed for SBAC (like dragging and   dropping, highlighting text, etc.) and working on these with students in   lower grades. A list of checkpoints for early February has been prepared and   will be administered at that time.

D.     No evidence has been collected. At the same time, the staff has   agreed to use the conventions elements of the WCSU Writing Student   Achievement Non-Negotiables as the guide for this document and teachers do   reference the N-N’s when planning instruction and assessing students.   Evidence of this alignment should be available in March as the formative   assessment protocol will have been finished and in use for about a month at   that time.

E.    The writing committee   plans to have a first version of a writing conventions checklist/formative   assessment protocol ready to use by the end of January.

  1. Mathematics

In mathematics local assessment news, we are in the midst of trying out a new computer-based screening tool, easyCBM. This is a great chance to learn, both in terms of the time students spend testing, and in the time it takes for results to be generated; by getting information about how students in grades K-6 are doing in mathematics, AND to practice administration of a computer-based test in advance of the SBAC. The assessment will also be taken by students in grades 7 and 8. Once again, this helps facilitate a smoother transition from CES to the middle school.

In other mathematics assessment news, the work we are doing with Karin Hess in partnership with Orange North SU is underway. Our WCSU Mathematics Steering Committee rep, Kate Rob, reports that, for her grade span, many items for math non-negotiables aligned benchmark assessments are completed and have been “field tested” with students across both SU’s. Kate will soon attend a follow-up meeting at which student work will be examined and items will be adjusted as needed. We are all very much looking forward to having these rigorous, informative, and common assessments!

There are no new CIP indicators since those shared last month; targets for October 31st were shared last month and the next set of benchmarks is due January 30th. Action steps for math were updated last month.

  1. School Climate

The PTNO’s Spaghetti Dinner on December 5th was a tremendous success! The event brought in a profit of about $1,400 and a crew of 135 hungry customers. Children and adults had a great time, reporting that the food was delicious and that the raffle was exciting and filled with great prizes. We benefitted greatly from donations of prizes from local businesses, as well as the efforts of PTNO members to collect these items. Thank you notes are in the mail!

We held our second All School Celebration on Thursday, December 11th. The event was a ‘Celebration of Peace.’ Students divided into K-3 and 4-6 groups to hear developmentally appropriate stories about peace and create a craft project that tied into the stories they heard. Their creations will be hung on a small tree and displayed until winter break. It was great to have a slight change of pace with a mellower celebration that gave a little time for reflection and let some quieter students shine.

There are no new CIP indicators since those shared last month; targets for October 31st were shared last month and the next set of benchmarks is due January 30th. Action steps for school climate were updated last month.


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