Sunday, January 14, 2018

SBG and Responsibility/Accountability

Responsibility and accountability often come up when I talk with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders about standards-based grading and reporting. In the old model, we would often give one shot opportunities for students to learn. It became more important that students knew the material by a certain date or time. Those that took longer or displayed negative approaches to learning (late work, zeroes, etc.) were often left behind. Grades didn’t necessarily depict what the student knew or was able to do.

Some schools have called these behaviors employability skills. We have chosen to call them approaches to learning. We know that for students to be successful in their learning they must exhibit certain behaviors. For example, our teachers in grades 4-6 have identified these behaviors to report separately from the grade: responsibility, respectful, stays on task, completes work on time, and work is neat. Our teachers in grades 7-12 have identified work habits, self-reliance, and sound character as their approaches to learning.

In a standards-based system we allow opportunities for second chances. Some may question as to whether we are holding students accountable and preparing them for life when we allow second chances for learning. I am not diminishing the importance of accountability and responsibility. I believe we need to instill these skills during a student's school experience. My response is that when we separate behaviors like late work and zeroes from the grade we become much more accurate. Under this new model we elevate the significance of accountability and responsibility, because we report it separately from the grade.

You can read more about our work here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Professional Learning Day: January 15th

Our school district and several others will be taking part in an excellent day of learning on January 15th. Thanks to NCEC for organizing this event in coordination with our member school districts. You can find the sessions and links to the presentations below.

*You will need to right click the presentations and view in a new window to access them. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Congratulations Mr. Blikre!

It is my pleasure to announce that Jared Blikre our high school principal has been named Region 2 principal of the year. He is now in the running for the North Dakota Secondary Principal of the Year. Mr. Blikre has served as our high school principal for the past six years. Under his leadership he has implemented several innovative measures that have led to improved student achievement. These innovative changes have increased our graduation rate, lowered failure rate, increased ACT scores, and increased the percentage of students that qualify for the North Dakota Academic and CTE Scholarships.

We are very fortunate to have Mr. Blikre as our high school principal. He is an excellent school leader and keeps students at the forefront of his decision making. This is very exciting for our school district. Mr. Blikre joins Jason Gullickson our elementary principal as region principal of the year for this school year. They will now both compete at the state level for principal of the year in their respective fields. Congratulations Mr. Blikre!  

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Summary of our Youth Risk Behavior Survey results

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has released a statement on our most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Schools complete this survey every other year. The most recent results are from this school year. Our high school students (9-12) took the survey this past fall and we recently received our results. The survey compares our school data to all other students in the state. This year approximately 10,000 students took the survey. The last time our school district surveyed our entire high school was during the 2009 school year. When I compared the 2017 YRBS to the 2009 YRBS positive results emerged, along with a few concerning areas.

Our students reported less school violence. For example in 2009, 9% of students said they carried a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey. In 2017, we received Insufficient Cell Size (ICS) which means there were less than three students that reported that they carried a weapon. Students reported a decrease in physical violence on school property. In 2009, 8.1% of our students were involved in a physical altercation at school. In 2017, 4.2% of our students reported they were involved in a physical altercation at school. 

Tobacco use has declined in our schools. In 2009, 9.1% of our students reported using tobacco before the age of 13. In 2017, 8% of our students reported using tobacco before age 13. Students who smoked cigarettes regularly have decreased from 12.7% in 2009 to 11.1% in 2017. Students who use chewing tobacco have decreased from 15.4% in 2009 to 5.1% in 2017. Students report an increase in use of e-cigarettes. In 2009, 22% of our students had used e-cigarette products compared to 22.2% in 2017.

Our students report less alcohol use. In 2009, 76.5% of our students had at least one drink of alcohol at least 1 day during their life compared to 65.5% in 2017. Binge drinking has decreased since 2009. In 2017, 12.2% of students had five or more drinks in a span of a couple hours compared to 33.3% in 2009. It appears that students are getting less alcohol from those that are of legal age. In 2009, 31.4% of students reported that they received alcohol from an individual of legal age compared to 21.4% in 2017. 

Students appear to be engaging in less sexual behavior when we compare our recent results to 2009. The percentage of students that have had sexual intercourse has decreased from 34% to 26.2%. The percentage of students that consider themselves sexual active has decreased from 27.6% to 20.6%. The percentage of students who use birth control has increased from 25% to 27.3%. 

Drug use appears to be stagnant. Marijuana use has increased slightly from 2009 to 4.2% in 2017. Prescription drug abuse has decreased from 10.6% in 2009 to 8.5% in 2017. 

Students reported an increase in bullying and cyber bulling. In 2009, 19.5% of students reported bullying on school property compared to 22.9% in 2017. Electronic bullying increased from 4.9% in 2009 to 16.2% in 2017.

Students have reported an increase in depression and suicide ideation. In 2009, 17.7% of students reported that they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row compared to 33.1% in 2017. In 2009, 9.8% of students reported that they have seriously considered suicide compared to 15.3% in 2017. In 2009, 7.3% of students reported that they had made a plan about how they would attempt suicide compared to 11% in 2017. 

Overall, I am happy to see that alcohol, tobacco, sexual behavior, and drug use have declined, but I am concerned of the reported increase in bullying, depression, and suicide ideation. I hope that these findings will generate a conversation within your own home and within our community. Schools are reflections of the community in which they serve.