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Monday, September 19, 2011

Must Be Present to Win- 9/20/11

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                             

Have you ever entered a contest where one of the rules was that you must be present to win?  The same rule applies to school.  If a child is not here for instruction, they miss out on the great prize of learning!  In order for kids to benefit from every minute of learning, they must be in class each morning by 8:30.

At 8:30 a.m. on Friday I did a very fast walk around the building.  Kindergarten students were working on fine motor skills with handwriting practice.  First graders were writing sentences in response to a question.  Second graders were spelling science vocabulary words.  Third graders and fourth graders were working on math.  Fifth grade classes were going over the criteria for a written report.   The first minutes of the day are not wasted in an elementary school.  Every minute counts!

On my way back to the office one child after another greeted me as they had just arrived and were late to class. I checked over attendance logs for the week and on any given day, between 15 and 30 students arrived after 8:35.  Yikes!   A few minutes here and a few minutes there certainly can add up over the course of year.  If a child is late to third grade once, they might miss 10 opportunities to practice mathematics.  If they are late five times they miss fifty opportunities.  If you do the math (given that you were present for third grade multiplication instruction J) you can see how quickly missed instruction adds up.  Elementary school is about building skills as well as stamina for future instruction.  Kids must be present to develop this habit.

One thing I’ve noticed about our parking lot is that the flow goes very smoothly between 8:05 and 8:15 a.m. but by 8:20 a.m. things are getting a bit congested.  At 8:30 it’s bumper to bumper so I am assuming there are kids in cars instead of class.  I wonder if every family had the goal of being on campus by 8:08 if ALL our kids would do great during the first minutes of learning. 

If you attended Back to School Night last week, you know that our District has high expectations for kids.  Our aim is for 100% of our kids to be learning at high levels.  College and career readiness requires a strong foundation that builds from kindergarten.  That all (a.k.a. 100%) students will be prepared for post-secondary education and career success seems like a lofty District goal, but when I asked parents last Thursday if they expected any less of their children, not a single parent raised their hand. You can learn more about what students are expected to know and be able to do by checking out grade level learning targets at 

Last Thursday night, I shared with parents that about 80% of our students are reading at the level needed for College and Career Readiness (CCR). In the area of mathematics, 58% of our students are performing at the level needed for CCR and 64% of our students in writing.  About 35% of our kids have reading, math AND writing skills firmly in place.  We have important work to do and need kids in class in order to meet the goal.

In Mrs. Spidal’s third grade classroom last Friday, she worked with a small group of children, as others were lost in books.  Chronicles of Narnia, Magic Treehouse, and Spiders are Not Insects were just a few of the titles I observed kids reading.  Learners knew the objectives of their reading time. Trevor noted that building stamina, or the ability to stay on task while reading, was an important skill for becoming a better reader.  Leah noted that concentrating on the book builds comprehension.  Kids in this class know that following a chapter, you write about the chapter to prove to yourself that you understand what you are reading.  Manuel knew that good readers reread the text if they don’t understand what they read.  As the observer, I noticed that kids were taking responsibility for their learning as they self-monitored.  As texts become more complex as students grow older, this practiced skill will still be applied.   Great things are happening in our classrooms each day!  Thank you for sharing your children with us.

Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
a.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.

Reminders and FYI

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Talented and Gifted Testing
Every year students are considered for Talented and Gifted services in Beaverton School District.  These services are provided by your child's classroom teacher(s).  If you think your child might qualify, you may wish to complete the Parent Information Form that is available in our school’s office.  Completing this form gives our school TAG committee more information about your child, but it is not required.  All qualified students will be considered regardless of its completion.
Oregon law and District policy define gifted students as those who score at or above the 97th percentile on a standardized, nationally normed test of mental ability and/or academic achievement.  Behavioral, learning, and/or performance information is also considered before a student is identified for TAG services.  The Parent Information Form must be completed and returned to our school’s TAG facilitator, Michele Cobain, or the school’s office.

Student Verification Form
Please review your child's Student Verification form and complete or correct all missing or erroneous information.  Pay particularly close attention to your address, phone number, zip code, emergency information and employment.  Sign the form and return it to school as soon as possible.

Candidates sought for school Community Engagement Committees
Sexton Mountain School is seeking candidates interested in applying for Community Engagement Committees (CEC). Each committee will be comprised of 3 – 5 individuals from our school and local community. The primary responsibilities for Community Engagement Committees are to assist the principal with outreach and engagement of the local community, serve as a communication link between the school community, principal and School Board, and determine use of school property. Individuals interested in applying need to reside and/or work, and reflect the diversity within the school attendance area, or for options schools, the District attendance area. The school principal will appoint the committee members. Candidates should complete an application (available from school office), and may also include a resumé and/or letter of interest. Application deadline is Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. Send completed application materials directly to the school office.  For more information, please contact the school office.

Nagleri Testing
In October, all 3rd and 5th grade students in the Beaverton School District will be administered the Naglieri Nonverbal
Ability Test (NNAT2). The NNAT2 assesses school learning ability without requiring a student to read, write or speak.
Instead, students rely on reasoning and problem solving skills to complete the test items.
The NNAT2 results may be used to screen general ability for students whose school performance may be hindered by
limited English proficiency. The test is also used as one screening factor for eligibility for District programs, such as
Talented & Gifted and Summa. The results of the NNAT2 will be distributed to parents in December. For more information, please contact Michele Cobain, TAG facilitator.

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