Calais Elementary School

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Principal's Report

Principal's Report May 2015

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – May 28, 2015

Link to the current Continuous Improvement Plan:

  1. Literacy

We are in the midst of administering summative writing prompts. Anecdotally, students are showing remarkable gains in confidence and stamina. We are excited to see the quantitative results in a couple of weeks! We are also in the process of administering reading benchmark assessments to those students who were below or just barely at grade level in the winter. Again, there are some dramatic gains we are excited to more fully analyze and celebrate in the coming weeks.

Below are the CIP indicators for April 17, 2015. In general, we have created materials as planned, including scope and sequence documents and assessments. We have not collected evidence or fully articulated and followed protocols for using those materials. Next year’s CIP focuses on bringing these tools to “routine use” rather than embarking on entirely new endeavors.

By April 17,   2015

A.      All six 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

B.      Continued evidence of instruction aligned to typing/computer   skills scope and sequence in grades K-6

C.      Continued evidence of instruction aligned to writing conventions   scope and sequence in grades K-6

D.      Updated formative assessment data entered into writing   conventions tracking tool for grades K-6

E.      Evidence of whole (or nearly whole) class re-teaching in areas   indicated by second post-instruction writing prompt and writing conventions   formative assessment tracking tool

F.       Intervention documentation in place for students identified as   below grade level on Winter F&P

A.      As of 5/21/15, we are in the midst of administering summative   prompts. Data will be collated and analyzed in the coming weeks. There is   benchmark of creating a data summary in the new CIP.

B.      See similar indicator in previous time period

C.      See similar indicator in previous time period

D.      We will work to develop system for collating data from   conventions checklists and include that summary in the report mentioned in   Indicator A above.

E.      See similar indicator in previous time period

F.       See similar indicator in previous time period

  1. Mathematics

Because of what is hopefully a one year Pre-K enrollment dip (the number of three- and four-year-olds is low enough that we are having just one combined-age class next year), Beth Downing will be available to do some math interventions for students in grades K-3 next year. We are thrilled to be able to, at long last, offer support for students struggling in mathematics in the same way we have been doing with reading for years. Teachers are very excited about this endeavor; each year when we present the new CIP to the staff, there is always a question about when we might finally get a math interventionist that is met with many nods and affirmations from colleagues. This is a great opportunity to run a pilot program in a budget-neutral way. Beth is working with colleagues in WCSU and Orange North SU to find the best strategies – both instructional and logistic – to meet our kids’ needs.

The CIP indicators for April 17, 2015 are not listed below, because the “Did We Make It?” column for each simply states “See similar indicator in previous time period.” Overall this year, much like in writing, we have succeeded in creating materials and are still working on bringing those tools to routine use. Accordingly, next year’s math work will also focus on implementing the new materials rather than changing course or adding a lot of new tools and ideas.

  1. School Climate

In June, we will bring Climate Survey results to the board meeting. As noted in previous months, it’ll be great two have two years’ worth of directly comparable data!

We are thrilled to share that 100% of our sixth graders completed their service hours on time! We are beginning work on final reflections and are excited to hear students’ thoughts about lessons learned about the community and themselves. This year’s sixth grade trip will be a beach day at Silver Lake State Park in Barnard, VT. We will swim, fish, lounge on the beach, and cook-out. Students are also brainstorming ideas for ways to make the day extra special.

Following are the CIP indicators for April 17, 2015. In general, we have met the content of PBIS goals if not the frequency. Next year’s CIP focuses on maintaining Tier 1 and Tier 2 PBIS work as staff turns over, maintaining and hopefully growing the sixth grade service project, and embarking upon school-wide work to teach and measure resilience as a key indicator in students’ ability to problem solve and consistently access education.

By April 17, 2015

A.      Behavior and any other relevant PBIS data shared with staff at   the end of each month via memo

B.      Third and fourth (and possibly fifth) All School Celebration   complete and successful

C.      Evidence of analysis of SWIS data and changes to Tier 1 and/or 2   supports informed by data

D.      Evidence of a fourth and fifth successful Tier 1 “Booster”   challenge

E.      Readiness for Tier 3 PBIS achieved, team sent to March training

F.     Evidence of   reflection on 1-2 co-planning and parent communication systems

A.      Discussed current data at 5/13/15 staff meeting. Decided to use   the “Respectful Learner Challenge” booster again as minor disruption is still   one of the top five problem behaviors.

B.      Will hold third and final celebration in early June. Team is   committed to focusing on ways to keep Tier 1 vibrant and robust next year.

C.      Booster noted above. Currently have low use of CICO (Tier 2),   but it is working well for those accessing that support.

D.      We held three this year. There are not highly compelling changes   in data that are plausibly attributed to the boosters; we do have very small   sample sizes, though, which makes finding trends difficult.

E.      Team decided in late winter to put this on hold given the   numerous staff changes coming in 2015-2016.

F.     One of the team   teachers will be out for a one-year leave next year. Joint conferences have   gone well and we will keep those. Consistent co-planning has been helpful;   master schedule will include again. Teachers have requested that we consider   content specialization in 5/6 for 2015-2016. Parent night held on 5/20/15;   turnout of 10 (one parent shared that this sounded like what is happening in   1-2 and that has gone well). Collecting info re: parent thoughts and   preferences via survey during week of 5/26.

  1. Other
  2. Next Year’s CIP

Next year’s CIP was introduced in draft form to the staff on April 29th. The goals and priorities of this document have been described in each of the earlier section. Our process for completing the work was a bit different this year, given the many staff transitions that will be occurring. As in the past, we began by asking CES committees what they wanted the relevant section of the plan to say (i.e., we asked the writing committee what should be included in the literacy section of the CIP). The CIP team talked about the big picture goals and key tasks together and then the tasks of articulating action steps and what were this year called “indicators” and will next year be termed “benchmarks” were handed over to the member with expertise in that area. This process was used to ensure that the folks who would be leading the work in 2015-2016 would also be fully prepared to do so.

You can view the draft here:

We will bring a more polished version for adoption in June.

  1. Teacher Search Processes Update

We are working on first and second round interviews for both our school counselor and special educator openings as we speak. We’re working as fast as possible to get these final searches wrapped up!

  1. Title I Funding Update

After many years of narrowly making the mark of eligibility for school-wide Title I funding, our socio-economic need dipped below the threshold this year. Accordingly, we will not receive Title I funds in the 2016-2017 school year. We are, thankfully, grandfathered in for the 2015-2016 school year, so there are no budget changes needed at this time. We are also fortunate that, in anticipation of this possibility, we reduced the number of positions funded through this source in the 2015-2016 budget. The only program we planned to fund with Title I money next year is our literacy specialist position (in recent years, we have also used Title I money to fund the technology integrationist).


  1. Summer Facilities Work

Key projects that will be undertaken this summer include:

  • Playground maintenance and updates including adding back a climbing dome and righting some leaning towers
  • Usually sprucing up tasks: painting, carpet cleaning, replacing broken floor tiles
  • Regular maintenance to heating, plumbing, lighting, alarm systems

We are not anticipating any major undertakings. After the roof and putting in all new networking cables last year, it’s good to have a more mellow maintenance year. In June we will include information about the projected costs of these projects.

  1. Kitchen Update

We are fortunate to be holding steady with our daily meal counts. We have gone a bit over the planned food cost, but have also seen a shift in the number of breakfasts vs. lunches served and have had a few key items increase in price. We have also managed to find some savings in other parts of the kitchen operation that help offset this small increase in expenses. Lori, Marissa, and Carolyn met recently to begin designing a template for Carolyn to use to plan her food orders and monitor spending to date against the amount budgeted for food costs at the start of the year.


Principal's Report April 2015

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – April 16, 2015

Link to the current Continuous Improvement Plan:

  1. Literacy

At our All School Morning Meeting on Friday, April 3rd, the third grade class shared highlights from their animal reports. Students selected an animal to study and, after careful research, synthesized their learning into Google Slides presentations. Many students’ final products included scanned drawings, thus bringing together the hand-made and digital worlds. It was great to see the pride with which the third graders shared and the interest with which the rest of the school watched and listened.

The reading specialists are continuing to guide our work with the new 4th-8th grade reading assessment, the DRA-2. A question they are currently tackling is how we can use this tool to measure growth or shrinkage of proficiency gaps. They are also cross-checking the scoring tools with the common core standards and using this information to inform their work on student achievement non-negotiables in reading.

The CES Writing Committee is in the process of collecting benchmark pieces of each text type for all grade levels. The goal is to have a complete collection of pieces assembled by the end of this school year so that compendium can be used in whole staff curriculum and assessment work beginning in the fall of 2015. That work will focus on using protocols for looking at student work to analyze the features of good writing – both those that are universal and genre- or age-specific – and from there coming to consensus on a rubric and other assessment practices.

There are no new CIP indicators this month. The next set is due April 17th.

  1. Mathematics

We are in the midst of the administration of our “What does a good mathematician do?” assessment of student awareness and knowledge of the common core standards for mathematical practice (often more simply termed the “math practices”). Next year’s CIP identifies one key practice to focus on; the math committee will lead the work to develop and consistently use tools to monitor student proficiency with that practice. The current thinking is that this tool will be an observational assessment that can be completed quickly – by students and staff – while looking at or listening to a student’s work to solve a complex problem.

There are no new CIP indicators this month. The next set is due April 17th.

  1. School Climate

We are in the midst of this year’s administration of the now annual climate survey. We are looking forward to having data that is directly comparable to last year’s results and using results to inform the CIP development process. We are aiming for a return rate from families that is higher than last year’s total of 47 responses. A key change we made to help realize this goal was setting out hard copies during conferences earlier this month.

We have recently completed two PBIS assessments, the School-wide Assessment Survey (SAS) and Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ). The team is now working on analyzing these results and creating reports that can be shared and digested as an entire staff. We plan to more regularly engage the whole staff in conversations about successes and challenges we are experiencing with our PBIS programming. As noted last month the team has chosen to spend the rest of this year and all of next year focusing on ensuring high quality, consistent, and fully engaging Tier One and Tier Two programming.

The majority of our sixth graders have successfully completed the first assignment of the Sixth Grade Service Project (SGSP), the proposal. Students will be volunteering all over the area and completing tasks ranging from shelving books at a local library to cleaning trails and other outdoor recreation areas to supporting kindergarten reading instruction. Several students have already begun logging their hours. We are definitely learning a lot along the way about the ideal way to approach this kind of project in the future while also making it work this year! As noted last month, a key task in next year’s CIP will be maintaining or even growing the SGSP. We have already begun articulating some checkpoints for the end of this school year that ensure we will record our learning and ideas for next year before everyone forgets all those details over the summer.

There are no new CIP indicators this month. The next set is due April 17th.

  1. Other
  2. SBAC Assessment Preparation and Administration

Students have been working with their classroom teachers and our technology integrationist, Jill Abair, to become familiar with the online testing environment and tools – features like a highlighter, strikeout tool, calculator, notepad, and dictionary – that are available to them during all or part of the assessment. This work and all other phases of SBAC preparation have emphasized our mission to use this first year of a new assessment to learn how to best administer the exams while also ensuring that students enter the test with confidence and experience minimal frustration.

Teachers and support staff who will be test administrators will complete an online training and certification test at this week’s staff meeting. All teaching staff members have also worked through student training tools including practice test questions so they have a sense of what technology prowess and content knowledge and skills students will be asked to demonstrate on this assessment. In general, we are cautiously optimistic that our infrastructure and teacher trainings, coupled with our students’ knowledge and skills, will make for an ultimately successful first year. There will, undoubtedly be a few surprises along the way, but we certainly have capacity to calmly navigate those bumps.

  1. Teacher Search Processes Update

We plan to have a final nomination for our one-year 1/2 classroom teacher position at the April board meeting.

We posted an anticipated opening for a 1.0 FTE special educator a couple of weeks ago and just recently updated the status of that posting to a confirmed opening. We will assemble a search committee and begin an efficient yet thorough process as soon as we return from April vacation. Several staff members have already expressed interest in participating in the effort find an excellent educator to fill this incredibly important position.


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