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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

State Report Card, CommonCore, and More-November 4, 2014

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:          

Our school’s Oregon State Report Card Rating was recently published and our school falls within the top 10% in the state of Oregon.  This is exciting news indeed as it recognizes the hard work our students, staff and supporters have put into making our school shine.   While it seems our high rating is used most often by local realtors to sell homes in our area, schools also use the information as one piece in helping to inform instructional decisions.   We disaggregate the data to learn about how we are meeting the needs of different groups of students.  

Our rating is based on a number of factors including:
  • the percentage of students at the school who take the required state assessments
  • the percentage of students who meet or exceed expectations on the assessments
  • the percentage of students in different categories (disaggregated into 14 different categories)  who meet or exceed expectations on the assessments

This snapshot of student achievement is only one of many in our “how are we doing” album, but unlike other assessments we use, this helps us see how our instructional practices are supporting students compared to other students around the state.  As we move toward national Common Core state standards and assessments we will also develop a better understanding of how our students are doing compared to others across the nation as well.

The report card is based on the standardized assessments our third, fourth and fifth graders take but I see examples of how interactions, starting in kindergarten, prepares students to think deeply and critically so they will be ready for a wide range of academic tasks, including state assessments.

There has been much media attention around the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  As a parent, these two terms could be confusing and might make you wonder how they will affect your child’s education.  While the terms are often put together, I will describe them separately because they are indeed two different things.

The Common Core State Standards are standards that define the knowledge and skills students should have K-12.  These Common Core State Standards were developed by forty-eight states, two territories, and the District of Columbia and have had much teacher input in their development.  Previously, Oregon had the Oregon Standards for every grade level.  The Oregon Standards were developed in Oregon so may have differed from the standards that other states had developed.  The Common Core State Standards tell us what students need to know and be able to do at each grade level. The intentional and coherent structure is intended to develop rich content knowledge and help students build the habits of mind that are essential to their future success.  You will see the standards put in kid language in the learning targets or learning goals posted in the classrooms.  Here is an example of targets from a kindergarten classroom.



Visit this link to browse the Beaverton Learning Targets

Teachers at all grade levels teach the Common Core State Standards.  They gather information about a child’s progress toward the standards in a variety of ways.  The formal and informal assessments used inform the teacher about the next steps for instruction.  These assessments help us understand how we are doing today compared to yesterday.  The more formal assessments, like Oregon Assessment of Knowledge of Skills (OAKS) provided us with a bigger picture understanding of how our kids are doing compared to those around the state.   In past years, the OAKS math and reading test could be administered up to three times so students could spend hours and hours testing and retesting in order for us to have the highest number of students meet expectations.  This school year, our students in third, fourth and fifth grades will take a different reading and math assessment.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is one measurement tool that provides opportunities to apply the content knowledge and habits of mind so that we can better understand what students are learning.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is a team of states, including Oregon, that developed the assessment called Smarter Balance.  This spring Smarter Balance will replace the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) that was previously used to assess the Oregon standards.  The Smarter Balanced English Language Arts/Literacy and Math assessments have an on-line portion and a classroom performance task portion.  The assessments are more rigorous than the OAKS assessment as the Common Core Standards are more rigorous. Unlike OAKS, students will only have one chance to take the SBAC so it’s likely that our students may spend less time testing than they have in past years.  More information about the SBAC will be in future newsletters.  You can find sample tests at http://sbac.portal.airast.org/practice-test/.

It has always been interesting to me that previously every state in the United States could develop their unique standards and assessments.  Many developed countries have moved to national standards and common assessments, so as a country they can compare results and work on initiatives.  I think that the Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced assessment can better prepare all students across the United States for their future. The goal of the Beaverton School District is to prepare our students for a wide range of post secondary and career options.  The Common Core State Standards provide the intentional and coherently structured framework to help our students build the skills to THINK crucially and creatively, KNOW important content, ACT collaboratively and GO into the local and global community to change the world.  The Smarter Balanced assessment will give us information about how we are doing this along the way.  

Last month I did a presentation on this topic to interested parents.  I shared some strategies that families can use to support the habits students will need for the new expectations. Using EVIDENCE to support thinking is likely the most important habit you can instill in your child.  Asking a child to give reasons to support an opinion develops REASONING skills. 

I see examples of this every day as I visit classrooms. Our teachers are asking students to develop their thinking by looking for evidence in the text, explaining their thinking or building on the thinking of others.  Last Friday, I happened to visit a classroom as students were having a serious discussion comparing bats and birds. They used evidence from the text and were knocking my socks off with their depth of knowledge. The teacher asked a question about what bats use in order to navigate at night. First graders were asked to share their idea with a neighbor before raising their hand. A neighbor in front of me whispered, "echolocation" and my neighbor to the right whispered into my ear, "a flashlight."  By providing opportunities for students to share their ideas, kids were able to build a new understanding.  By finding evidence in the text, and comparing that to other texts about whales, kids built new vocabulary and a better understanding as well.  Sexton Mt. has great teachers working hard to support students.  Thank you for supporting our teachers as they support your children!

Fondly,

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

Thank you!
·       Thanks all who put so much effort into planning great fall parties for our kids!  We have amazing volunteers.
·       Thanks to Amy Stewart for donating kids’ magazines for our cafeteria reading tubs.  Kids certainly enjoy reading these!

Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school. Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.
·       We need 3 wagons to add to our LUNCH WAGON collection.  If you have one to donate, we can put it to good use.
·      Are you a woodworker?  We’d love to have someone make a sign for our 155th and Sexton Mtn. entry with the name of our school and our address. 
·       Have you noticed the new “stained glass window” in the library.  This decorative vinyl blocks the sun so makes it easier for students to see the screen during presentations.  We hope to cover another window or two as well.  Donations of Wisteria Decorative Window Film (available at Home Depot) will be put to good use in our library.  We could use three more panels.
·       Our students LOVE to read kid magazines in the cafeteria.  Donations of Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, LegoMagazine, Zoo Books, and more will be put to good use.
·       Donations of folding card tables can be put to good use for special lunch times on the stage.

Upcoming Events
November 10-Staff Development Day-No School
November 11-Veterans’ Day-No School
November 13-PTC Meeting at 9:30am
November 14-PTC Family Dance
November 26, 27, 29-Thanksgiving Break-No School
December 1-Grading Day-No School
December 5-PTC Music Program
December 9-PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
December 22-January 2-Winter Break- No School
January 5- School Resumes

Reminders (Article below were included in previous newsletters.)

Music Program
December 5 is the Winter Music Program. First through fifth graders will perform during this evening event.

Facebook
Are you on Facebook?  Stay connected by liking the Principal CB’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Principal-CBs-Page-Sexton-Mountain-Elementary/227153960776053

Remind 101
       Text @drcleme to 81010 to receive text messages regarding school closures or weather related delays and other “breaking news” will be shared this way.

Twitter
Are you a Twitter user?  Follow us at https://twitter.com/PrincipalCB

 

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