Calais Elementary School

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Principal's Report

Principal's Report March 2015

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – March 19, 2015

Link to the current Continuous Improvement Plan:

  1. Literacy

On February 18th, our reading specialist and WCSU Literacy Steering Committee representative led a staff meeting during which classroom teachers and special educators looked through the official first version of student achievement non-negotiables in writing. Following that meeting, grade level teams (PK-3 and 4-6) had conversations at lunchtime meetings to discuss an ultimate vision for our CES PreK-6 writing program. We are excited to use this time as an opportunity to consider our vertical alignment and figure out where we will be tight and where we can be a bit looser.

The CES writing committee has finished writing conventions checklists that can be used by teachers and students to assess whether they are meeting the expectations set out by the non-negotiables. At our staff meeting on March 18th, we will discuss these as a whole staff and come to consensus on when and how often to use this new tool. This is a great opportunity to engage students in self-reflection and self-assessment, giving them more ownership of and responsibility for creating high quality work.

At our CIP Kick-Off meeting on March 11th, our small but mighty CIP team began thinking about the school-specific literacy work in which we might engage next year. Kelly Bushey and Jen Miller-Arsenault have done us all a great favor by entering into this year’s template the SU-wide work that will be occurring next year. This narrows the focus of our CES team to what small number of additional goals and projects we will take on. The thinking of the group thus far is to continue setting growth and proficiency goals in reading and to emphasize the writing side of literacy in our PD work.

There are no new CIP indicators this month. The next set is due April 17th. Two recently updated action steps are highlighted below.

Action Step


Engage   students in goal setting and reflection in both reading and writing;   highlight opportunities for student choice

9/14/14: Special   educators and paras identified this as an action step in which they can play   an active role during CIP scavenger hunt.

  3/17/15: We are behind   on this one. We will flag this in an upcoming Monday Memo and likely spend   time at a staff meeting discussing it. We will also consider carrying this   forward to next year’s CIP.

Create   an “Intervention Schedule Investigation Team” to research scheduling options   that would allow for at least one 30 minute true “double dip” period for all   kids each day; have this committee generate a list of possible models

11/10/14: Roster not   yet established. Need to start this step!!

  3/17/15: There are a   number of possible changes to the master schedule due to factors like   shifting toward Universal PreK compliance and increasing SU-wide   collaboration. This task is essentially tabled until we know a bit more about   those questions. Once we have clearer parameters, we will put a work group   together to sift through master schedule possibilities.

  1. Mathematics

WCSU Math Coach Ellen Dorsey spent the week of March 9th with our 5/6 math teachers. Ellen has created a blog post about her time here. Some highlights from the post include:

“In fifth grade, we focused on developing flexibility of thinking about how we define ‘one whole’ and multiplication of fractions at the Applications/Communications level.  In sixth grade, we focused on creating models for order of operations.  We decided that I would spend Monday and Thursday in the fifth grade class and Wednesday and Friday in the sixth grade class.”

As alluded to above, Thursday, March 12th was Pi Night! We had a great turnout, both in terms of families and pie diversity. It was particularly fun to see the problems arranged in a PreK-6 continuum on the gym walls. Kate Rob deserves many thanks for putting in the little bits of extra time required to keep the Pi Night machine running smoothly each year.

Our 2015-2016 CIP team also talked a bit about mathematics at our March 11th meeting. We are expecting that our math work will focus on implementing SU work, including administering and analyzing results of screening, benchmark, and summative assessments. Locally, we are considering looking at a single math practice to emphasize and continuing to bring our number concept and fact fluency trackers to routine use.

There are no new CIP indicators this month. The next set is due April 17th. The action steps highlighted in the literacy section of this report apply to mathematics as well.

  1. School Climate

We had a productive staff meeting on the first day after February break to review the most recent behavioral data and plan an upcoming All School Celebration. At that meeting we determined that our data indicate a need to re-teach the expectation of safe bodies during unstructured times like snack and line-up: by an overwhelming margin, the most frequent problem behavior reported to the office is minor physical contact. We implemented a booster week targeting safe hands and bodies during those looser times. As a result of that booster week, we saw improvements in behavior AND earned an All School Celebration much faster. On Friday, March 13th, we had a winter carnival featuring broomball, bobsledding, dog sled races, snow art, a campfire, and tunnel-making in the snow banks. It was a great afternoon with something for everyone. A big factor in the success of the event was the engagement of all teachers and classes in the planning and execution of the celebration. Staff members and students alike were excited for the fun days in advance.

We will be administering the school climate survey again this spring. We are looking forward to collecting and using this information on an annual basis. We made some fairly substantive changes to the surveys last year, so it will also be great to have directly comparable data this year and beyond.

Our Sixth Grade Service Project is in the very early stages of being up and running! We had a parent and student information session at the end of Pi Night. Nearly 80% of sixth graders attended with at least one parent in tow. Students are working away making phone calls and sending emails to set up projects. We hope to have placements and proposals finalized by March 27th. Students and parents are asking great questions about what counts as service, what kinds of projects will be most meaningful, and what the vision for this project is in the coming years.

Our PBIS Leadership Team has elected not to pursue a Tier Three training this year. While we may be eligible – we do not yet have final results from the surveys and assessments that determine eligibility – the team has agreed that with two key members leaving, it is not a good year to be planning new programming. Additionally, we, like almost all PBIS schools, have found that there is always room to keep focus on maintaining enthusiasm for and effectiveness of Tier One programming.

We have just begun conversations about this section of next year’s CIP. So far, we are sure that continuing and possibly even growing the Sixth Grade Service Project will be a priority. We are also beginning conversations about possibly targeting a key skill like problem solving or conflict resolution for explicit teaching and ongoing assessment/monitoring. The team is excited to deepen the conversation at our next meeting.

There are no new CIP indicators this month. The next set is due April 17th. Action steps for school climate were updated this week. Key information in those updates has largely been summarized in the paragraphs above.

  1. Other
  2. Teacher Search Processes Update

The 1-2 one-year leave replacement search committee is up and running. We met on March 12th to determine criteria and begin reviewing applications. We plan to hold first round interviews next week and then select a couple of candidates to invite in for demo lessons. We have a pool of 50 applicants and are looking forward to finding someone who is full of energy and a great fit!

Marissa and Kelly Bushey will finish gathering information and weighing options this week and have some form of posting up for the special educator position by Friday.


Principal's Report February 2015

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – February 11, 2015

Link to the current Continuous Improvement Plan:

  1. Literacy

Our Friday, February 6th in-service day will provide teachers from across the SU time to analyze reading assessment data together. Our elementary reading specialists have designed an engaging and action packed training for upper elementary and middle school ELA teachers on scoring and analysis of results on the DRA-2. As a reminder, the DRA-2 is a new reading benchmark assessment we will be using in place of the Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) assessment in grades 4-6. The shift has been made because this assessment is a better fit for grades seven and eight and therefore will provide for a smoother transition from elementary to middle school.

The WCSU Literacy Steering Committee has completed their official first version of student achievement non-negotiables in writing. In the coming weeks, Marissa will work with our committee representative, Marcy Larrabee, to design roll-out activities for both our classroom and allied arts teachers. It is great to see this curriculum work gathering momentum!

The CIP indicators for February 9th are pasted below. Action steps for literacy will be updated in the coming weeks.

Blue/italic 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 February 9, 2015

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

As of Feb. 3rd:

A.       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. Official roll-out of writing   non-negotiables will occur before February vacation. 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.

B.     The writing committee is   nearly finished with writing conventions checklist/formative assessment   protocol; as noted above, we expect assessment data to be available and being   used to plan instruction and provide feedback to students by the end of   March.

C.     Assessments (F&P for grades K-3   and DRA-2 for grades 4-6) administered on time. Analysis will occur at SU   in-service day on Feb. 6th.

D.     Reading specialist’s   groups have been adjusted based on results, both in terms of which students   she serves and in terms of what skills various groups address.

E.       No evidence has been   collected. Second post-instruction prompt has been administered or will be   soon. Writing conventions checklist/formative assessment protocol is nearly   finalized. Local data analysis tools have not yet been developed; as we adopt   more SU-wide local assessments, priority is given to developing data tools   for those assessments.

F.      All students below grade level work with reading specialist   and/or special educators. Those individuals keep data on how students perform   during their intervention sessions, most often in the form of a written   record that tracks accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.

G.     Mostly; Jill is working with classroom teachers to assess typing   rate and many other basic skills.

H.     Completed document finished on January 9th. Will be shared with   staff and finalized before end of year; at this point priority is to have it   in place at the start of 2015-2016 school year.

  1. Mathematics

At the Friday, February 6th in-service day, K-2 teachers will spend part of their day analyzing student results on our new screening tool that was administered in December. We are looking forward to finding the best possible way to use this data to inform whole class instruction and individual student interventions.

The CES Math Committee has continued their work developing intervention protocols and lesson materials, particularly for students struggling with place value and number concept, this winter. We are looking forward to another round of “show and tell” with the full staff in March and along with that conversations about how best to use this great new resource.

The CIP indicators for January 30th are pasted below. Action steps for mathematics will be updated in the coming weeks.

Blue/italic 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 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
  5. As noted in earlier sections, this work is being led by the WCSU   Mathematics Steering Committee. A screening tool was administered in   December. Benchmark assessments to be administered twice each year are   currently in development.
  6. See above.
  7.   Given that the assessments are not yet fully in place, full   completion of this indicator is impossible. That being said, we do have capacity   identify at least some of the students who are performing below grade level   and put purposeful interventions in place. To date, some intervention forms   and lesson resources have been developed, but neither are in widespread use.   There are few math interventions in place other than small group re-teaching   lessons administered by classroom teachers during the regular math block. It   is worth noting that SU-wide PD has been focused on tier one or primary   classroom instruction for the past several years; tier 2 interventions are   not yet something we have a great deal of training with nor are they a point   of emphasis in SU-level work.
  8.   Use continues to be   more consistent in some grades than others, but at least more than half of   our students are experiencing these assessments and instruction that is   informed by assessment results on a regular basis.
  1. School Climate

The PBIS Leadership Team is currently working hard to reflect on our successes and challenges with implementing Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports. It is the time of year when we administer some surveys and other assessment tools and then use our analysis of the information we gather to determine if we plan to attend a training for the next tier (in this case, the third and final layer of supports) in March. We are committed to making a very thoughtful decision given the impending departure of two team members, Marissa and Candace LaCroix.

We are looking forward to welcoming many community members into the school on Town Meeting Day. Teachers are working to collect samples of students’ best work for display in the halls and gym. We will also have a slideshow to display and may be able to offer student-led tours of the building during lunch. This is a great opportunity to show off what our kids do each and every day!

The CIP indicators for January 30th are pasted below. Action steps for school climate will be updated in the coming weeks.

Blue/italic 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 January 30, 2015

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

B.       Second and possibly third 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 second and third successful Tier 1 “Booster”   challenge

  1. SET score equal to or better than 87.5% (the score obtained in   fall 2013)
  2.   Evidence of reflection   on 1-2 co-planning and parent communication systems
  3. Data has been shared a few times each year. While forms are   being used consistently, they are not generating data that can be easily   analyzed for trends in severity of behavior. PBIS team is considering changes   to office referral form and practices in its completion that would provide   more informative data.
  4. Two All School Celebrations have been held to date. Both were   generally well received with the older students showing slightly less   enthusiasm.
  5. Data was used to design booster week in December. Given   generally static numbers of referral by month, location, and type of   behavior, PBIS Leadership Team is currently engaging in thoughtful   conversations about ways to sustain Tier 1 programming given challenges with   keeping celebrations fresh and exciting and keeping students and staff   members invested in the recognition system. Current plan is to administer the   annual assessments (SAS - self-assessment survey and BOQ - Benchmarks of   Quality), share results with entire staff, and plan next steps with entire   staff.
  6. To date, only one booster challenge has taken place. Response   was positive and a decrease in referrals for minor disruptions during class   was found.
  7. SET is no longer in use by state PBIS folks.
  8.   1/20 in-service day   looked at collaboration and meeting effectiveness across school. “Units”   (grades K-3 and grades 4-6) committed to reviewing the purposes and   structures of their lunch time meetings following this day’s work.
  1. Other
  2. Continuous Improvement Planning – Looking Back and Looking Ahead

We are about halfway through the year and thus, at least hopefully, the current CIP. In general, while we may be a bit behind on some deadlines, we are on pace to meet the vast majority of goals and action steps by the end of the year. Some particular successes include the creation and routine use of math fact fluency assessments and an increasingly manageable and effective writing prompt system. It is worth noting that some goals have been suspended or delayed as WCSU curriculum steering committees have undertaken similar work and it makes more sense to follow those groups’ leads, even if we must wait a bit.

Looking ahead, we will begin creating the new CIP in the coming weeks. There are some significant changes to state requirements for these plans, so we will once again begin our work with an SU-wide kick-off meeting. A group of Washington Central Leadership Team and Curriculum Council members are working to put together a training that includes using school boards’ student learning outcomes to inform priorities for goals and action steps. We are very excited about having a clear end in mind as we embark upon this planning and are looking forward to using the CIP process to spread the word about those student learning outcome documents. For continuity, Marissa hopes to assemble a team with many familiar faces and that includes school staff members who will be in a good position to lead the work next year.


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