Director of Learning
New Evaluation Update:
As we begin to wrap up evaluations, I would like to share that our teachers have shown courage and a willingness to learn during this major transition to our evaluation model. Their flexibility enabled us to adjust along the way, and learn together. For these reasons, I feel that this potentially very scary change in education has been successful and safe for all here in Woodland Schools. Our primary goals for the evaluation revisions, have been to support growth, guide instruction, and make it a collaborative experience. In order to evaluate whether we've met our goals, I have sent out an anonymous survey to all participating teachers. Attached are the results collected thus far. We will continue to collect feedback until the end of the year.
Common Core Article:
The article below does a good job clarifying the issues surrounding the common core. Since a few people in our community have concerns with the standards, I recommend this article, as it does a very good job clarifying the concerns of the different opponents to the standards. The article clarifies that It is not the standards people take issue with, but rather the short timeline to implement them, the testing that goes with the standards, and the connection between these tests and teacher evaluations, etc.
Scheduling Family Math Nights:
As I visit with other parents, it would seem spring has become the busiest season of the year for families. Due to the busy schedules of families, the scheduled configuration meetings, and recent events impacting particular school leadership I am recommending we schedule community/family math nights next fall rather than this spring.
Engage NY Pilot/Survey Results:
I have met with staff at both the Primary and Intermediate schools regarding the pilot of the math resources. All agree that the materials are an ideal solution to address the new standards, while we continue to learn about them. The teachers and I propose using the Engage materials as an interim math resource. We would then continue to evaluate it and other curriculum as formal adoption materials. The survey reflects that teachers who piloted the curriculum found it to be highly aligned with the common core standards and mathematical practices. They also indicated the materials were high quality with sound instructional methods. I will share the full survey results with you soon.
Smarter Balanced Testing: Our pilot of the new Smarter Balanced Testing has run very smooth with no technical glitches. I will be debriefing with staff and principals regarding the pilot next week.
State Testing: Unfortunately, I am disappointed to report that online state testing has not gone well. To give you a sample of the challenges we’ve faced, I have copied a message from the Intermediate School on a day 5th grade students were taking their MSP online.
'At WIS every computer has crashed at least once this morning. One student has lost connectivity 13 times. Most have lost connectivity five or more times. Students have lost between 30 and 50 minutes of testing time due to DRC (the contracted assessment vendor used by the state) technical issues. Keep in mind it is only 10:00 AM. ALL STAFF, both certificated and paras, are worried our results will be negatively impacted by these DRC technical issues. It is troubling that such a significant emphasis and level of accountability for our school is riding on a testing system that is failing our students at such an alarming rate and at a critical time.'
I called the assessment line and received verbal confirmation that it was ok to suspend testing for the day. I proposed the following adjusted test plan and am now awaiting approval from the state.
- Students be provided another full day to make up the test they started this morning. The make-up would take place on Tuesday, May 13th, which is the earliest we can get them a turn (we have the lab busy with other grades testing between now and then).
- Students would take the same test they started this morning.
- Our Tech Director confirmed that student answers were cached and went through to DRC, when it went back online. Therefore, answers completed this morning are saved. However, due to the large number of crashes and forced log outs I propose students have the opportunity/ability to go back over those problems.
I expect this plan to be approved. I will also follow up by submitting an irregularity report indicating the number of times numerous students' computers crashed, and seek answers around how our test scores will be used, if in fact, they have been impacted by the technical issues. It is very disappointing to be held accountable in such a high stakes fashion, when the test experience for students was so severely impacted.
Steve has worked with the test company and learned there was a confirmed programming error at the State end. The State vendor (DRC) fixed the error, so we hope continued to testing will be much smoother.