Monday, December 5, 2016

Common beliefs about grading and reporting.

Our highest performing PLCs report out on the standard. With this in mind we need to have conversations about what our core beliefs are in relation to grading and reporting. We have pockets of teachers who report out on the standard. To continue our work in this area we need to develop some consistencies and core beliefs across the district. Our school improvement committees have helped to develop the survey questions below to help gain feedback from teachers.

We will be putting together a task force to meet over a period of time to review the survey results, review the research, have dialogue, gather input from stakeholders, and then create a set of beliefs that we share as a district in relation to grading and reporting.

The survey is broken down into four areas: Practice, Curricular Alignment, Behavior, and Multiple Opportunities. We believe these are the key areas for our task force to focus on.

Here's an example of how each question is setup on the Google Form:


Description: Homework is defined as additional practice beyond what is done in the classroom.

  1. I believe all homework that I assign is meaningful and supports the student's learning. 
  2. I believe homework should not be included in the final grade. 
  3. I believe formative assessment should not be used for grading purposes, only for feedback.
Curricular Alignment

Description: How aligned is your curriculum to your I Can Statements?
  1. I believe all classroom instruction and assessments should be aligned to my I Can Statements.
  2. I believe it is important to provide multiple learning opportunities for students to demonstrate growth for each I Can Statement.
  3. I believe it is important to regularly report progress to parents and students based on the I Can Statement.


Description: Behavior is defined as anything that would be included in the grade that changes the reporting of mastery. For example, late assignments, classroom behavior, poorly completed assignments, missing homework, zeros, and etc.

  1. I believe behavior should be reported separately from the student's academic grade.
  2. I believe zeros teach students responsibility.
  3. I believe zeros cloud the reporting about what a student knows and is able to do. 
  4. I believe students should always receive full credit when they turn in their late or missing assignments.
  5. I believe it is acceptable to use bonus points/extra credit in a student's grade. 

Multiple Opportunities:

  1. I believe reiteration of a skill or concept is a significant part of competence. Redos and retakes are important to determine mastery.
  2. I believe redos and retakes should replace the grade and not be subject to reduced points. 
  3. I believe the latest grade should be used and not the average when determining mastery. 
More to come....

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

College remediation rate...a moving target


Like most school leaders I am concerned with the remediation rates reported by the different entities within our state. Remediation refers to the percentage of college freshman students that take remedial courses due to low ACT scores. This article isn't about directing blame, it is more about the inconsistency in reporting this data. Higher education naturally could blame K-12 for lack of preparation which led to remediation and K-12 could blame higher education for not providing a better atmosphere for individual students to succeed. Who's problem is remediation anyway? I personally think it is a shared problem and one that needs a shared solution. 

Recently, I began to research this topic. I started by contacting our community colleges, regional colleges, and our two research institutions within our state. I also reached out to approximately 15 other states and requested their remediation rates for incoming freshman. Finally, I reached out to the North Dakota University System.

This is what I learned…

Remediation may not impact on-time degree completion like previously thought.

When we compare a student that needs remediation versus those who do not, it appears it may take longer for degree completion for those that take remedial courses. Remediation may lead to higher student loan amounts for a student and a higher likelihood of not completing their degree program. As I researched this topic I found that this may not be true. This study focused on North Dakota community colleges and whether remediation courses increased the length of their degree completion. The data was generated from the North Dakota Statewide Longitudinal Data System. Based on the findings it does not appear that the act of taking a remedial Mathematics and/or English course at an NDUS Community College negatively affects a student’s likelihood of completing an Associate Degree on-time. The study found that delayed degree completion had more to do with the academic differences of the student than the required remedial classes. To say remediation automatically increases the time to complete a degree may not be entirely correct.

North Dakota does pretty well when compared to states within our region. 

As mentioned previously, I contacted 15 different states and asked for their overall percentage of students that needed some level of remediation. I received information from five different states so far. I think the Iowa Department of Education said it best, "Unfortunately, there is no uniform approach to remedial education and no standardized remedial data." As you review the remediation rates below, please know that each state calculates remediation differently and I would make the argument that each college in their state may determine remediation differently. Adding to the confusion, agencies within the state may determine remediation differently. For example, in North Dakota, the North Dakota University System has a different percentage than the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. So, long story short, I am not sure about the accuracy of the data found below.

Minnesota Remediation Rate: 26%
(Based on 2013 data)
Montana Remediation Rate: 26%
(Based on 2015 fall data)
South Dakota Remediation Rate: 26%
(Based on 2014 data)
North Dakota Remediation Rate: NDUS: 25.31% and ND DPI: >40%
(NDUS based on 2016 fall data, unsure of ND DPI data)
Iowa Remediation Rates: 23.2%
(Based on 2012-2014 cohorts)

Inconsistent reporting may be occurring throughout our state. 

After contacting colleges and universities throughout the state of North Dakota it appears that there may be some inconsistencies when determining who qualifies for remediation and who does not. The two regional colleges I contacted have consistent cut scores for remediation. They follow recommended cut scores established by NDUS to determine remediation. Students who are unable to score an 18 on the English sub test and a 21 on the math sub test of the ACT can take the Compass test to avoid remediation. The cut scores for the Compass test at the regional colleges are a 49 in math and a 77 in writing. If the student is unable to get the required ACT and Compass score they are placed in remedial courses. The courses vary depending on the level of the ACT score. One of the research institutions in our state follows the similar ACT cut scores, but varied on the Compass cut score and used a different test for English. The cut score to avoid remediation was a 41 on the English Compass test and a 50 on the math Compass test. Therefore this research institution is using a different test for English and a higher cut score for math to determine remediation. If these conflicting data points get thrown into the same pot to determine North Dakota’s remediation rate, how will we compare apples to apples?

More questions.

If we are going to quantify our remediation rates across the state shouldn’t they be standardized for each institution?

Currently, ND DPI reports over 40% and NDUS reports 25.31% for overall remediation in North Dakota. If we report our remediation rates shouldn’t ND DPI and NDUS report the same data?

Compass will be phased out for Accuplacer within the next few months, but not all colleges may use Accuplacer according to school representatives. This may create further differences.


Here is our own data from the 2008-2013 cohort. It is broken down by the type of school.

Community College: 21.2%
Regional College: 24.3%
Research Institution: 4.2%

Check out this article from the Washington Post:

How college remediation rates are distorted - and why.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Climate and culture

During our early out last week I was able to spend some time with all support staff at RPS. Our discussion focused primarily on the climate and culture within our schools. We also spent some time discussing The Fred Factor (this year's book read for all support staff). Here is my PowerPoint:

Monday, October 17, 2016

So goes the culture, so goes the company.

It is interesting how quickly you can see and feel the climate and culture of an organization. A person can get a feel of 'how things are done around here' the moment they enter the organization's doors. Unfortunately, some of us have been exposed to toxic cultures that you can see and feel. Toxic cultures encourage isolation and actively work to halt the advancement of the organization. When toxic behaviors are allowed to flourish, people tend to do things that are right for them, and not right for the organization.
In a weak culture, we veer away from doing "the right thing" in favor of doing "the thing that's right for me." - Simon Sinek 
It begins with the leader and what he or she is willing to tolerate. The leader can ignore, participate in, or actively seek out and address toxic cultures that may exist in our organizations. As Peter Drucker said, "culture eats strategy for breakfast." We could have the greatest plan for improvement, but if we don't address our climate and culture nothing will matter. When we actively address culture and climate our organizations become better.  When a culture changes from a place where people take something for themselves to a place where people love to come to work - it's a wonderful thing.
The more energy is transferred from the top of the organization to those who are actually doing the job, those who know more about what's going on on a daily basis, the more powerful the organization and the more powerful the leader. - Simon Sinek 
Building a strong culture and climate takes work and it doesn't happen by accident. There has to be commitment from the leader and also from the people within the organization. High levels of trust must exist between the leader and people within the organization. We have to actively seek out unfiltered feedback from people about our climate and culture. We can't expect to see things from the clouds. If we rely only on information fed to us instead of going down to see for ourselves, we may have a completely different perception than those actually doing the work. We all play a role in creating a positive climate and culture for our students, but the leader's role may be most important in changing the climate and culture within a school.
What you permit, you promote. What you allow, you encourage. What you condone, you own. What you tolerate, you deserve. - Michelle Malkin
So goes the culture, so goes the company...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

We hosted Rick Wormeli. Here are my notes from the day...

We had a great day of learning for our staff yesterday. We hosted Rick Wormeli and his topic was on standards-based assessment and grading. Rick was able to provide clarity and continued to challenge our thinking. Here are the major ideas that resonated with me:

  • We should separate Advanced from our scale. You cannot be advanced on a standard you can only meet the standard. This should be reported separately. 
  • Don't falsify grades. We should separate behavior and homework from the grade. Responsibility, lateness, disrespect, and not turning in homework should not pollute the grade. These items should be reported separately. 
  • Section out your summative tests by the standard and actually label the standard or multiple standards that are being assessed throughout the assessment. Student may retake portions.
  • We need to become more evidentiary. Show me the evidence. Show me that you know the material. Be very clear and upfront with the evidence you are seeking. 
  • We have to approach each new learning goal like it is the first time the student has seen the content. 
  • Shrink the grading scale - review the 100 point scale. For example: A, B, C, D, (Remove the F) and ad No Evidence Presented or Not There Yet. 
  • Think of standards-based grading as a GPS - we reach the destination together. 
  • Never use group learning to grade one student. 
  • Allow redos and retakes on our Powerstandards. 
  • No Zeros. If it is important enough to assign then it is important enough to do. 
  • Formative assessment should be used only for descriptive feedback. Formative assessment should not be graded. 
  • No mention of quality and no judgement when providing descriptive feedback. 
  • You can learn without grades, but you can't learn without feedback.
  • Good feedback causes thinking.
  • Ego involving feedback does nothing to improve their progress on a standard. Feedback like good job, excellent, and smiley faces does nothing or may impede their progress. 
  • When feedback is descriptive and is not ego involving students do better. 
  • "It's what students carry forward, not what they demonstrated during the unit of learning, that is most in indicative of true proficiency." - Rick Wormeli
  • Nobody cares what you teach - they care about what students carry forward. 
  • "Nobody knows ahead of time how long it takes anyone to learn anything." -Yung Tae Kim
  • Repeat previously assessed items on future tests if they are Powerstandards. 
  • Assessment means to sit beside.
  • "A 'D' is a coward's 'F.' The student failed, but you didn't have enough guts to tell him." -Doug Reeves
  • Reiteration is a huge part of competence. 
  • Real time / Meaningful feedback is important to progress.
  • Review policies that may impede standards-based learning. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Ceramic Cup

I am reading Simon Sinek's latest book, Leaders Eat Last. It has been an excellent read on the topic of leadership. Sinek shared the following story that reminds us that it is not the position that gives leaders power, the people give leaders power. 
A former Under Secretary of Defense was to give a speech at a large conference. He took his place on the stage and began talking, sharing his prepared remarks with the audience. He paused to take a sip of coffee from the styrofoam cup he’d brought on stage with him. He took another sip, looked down at the cup and smiled. 
“You know,” he said, interrupting his own speech, “I spoke here last year. I presented at this same conference on this same stage. But last year, I was still an Under Secretary,” he said. 
“I flew here in business class and when I landed, there was someone waiting for me at the airport to take me to my hotel. Upon arriving at my hotel,” he continued, “there was someone else waiting for me. They had already checked me into the hotel, so they handed me my key and escorted me up to my room. The next morning, when I came down, again there was someone waiting for me in the lobby to drive me to this same venue that we are in today. I was taken through a back entrance, shown to the green-room and handed a cup of coffee in a beautiful ceramic cup.” 
“But this year, as I stand here to speak to you, I am no longer the Under Secretary,” he continued. “I flew here coach class and when I arrived at the airport yesterday there was no one there to meet me. I took a taxi to the hotel, and when I got there, I checked myself in and went by myself to my room. This morning, I came down to the lobby and caught another taxi to come here. I came in the front door and found my way backstage. Once there, I asked one of the techs if there was any coffee. He pointed to a coffee machine on a table against the wall. So I walked over and poured myself a cup of coffee into this here styrofoam cup,” he said as he raised the cup to show the audience. 
“It occurs to me,” he continued, “the ceramic cup they gave me last year . . . it was never meant for me at all. It was meant for the position I held. I deserve a styrofoam cup. 
“This is the most important lesson I can impart to all of you,” he offered. 
“All the perks, all the benefits and advantages you may get for the rank or position you hold, they aren’t meant for you. They are meant for the role you fill. And when you leave your role, which eventually you will, they will give the ceramic cup to the person who replaces you. Because you only ever deserved a styrofoam cup.”
The rank of office is not what makes someone a leader. Leadership is the choice to serve others with or without any formal rank.

Friday, September 16, 2016

PLC Norms

We recently developed a set of shared norms for how our PLCs operate within our schools. We are now in year three of weekly late starts for teacher collaboration and we felt that it was important to revisit our norms. I think our teachers developed a nice list of common expectations. I don't think we could have come to an agreement three years ago. It was only through experience that we were able to develop a common set of beliefs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Measure 2 and its potential impact on schools.

On November 8th we will vote on those that will represent us in political office and also make some decisions on the five constitutional measures found on the 2016 ballot. There is one constitutional measure in particular that may impact your local schools. Measure 2 allows additional access to the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund for education related purposes. The fund was established in 1994 by the citizens of North Dakota and is maintained by the state’s oil extraction tax. The only time the fund can be accessed is if the Governor calls for state wide cuts to funding. It is a safety net for K-12 public education in the event of a revenue shortfall. The fund has been used two times since its inception, once in 2002 ($5 million), and most recently this year ($120 million). Currently the amount in the fund is approximately $600 million.

Key Facts:

  • The foundation aid stabilization fund is a locked asset and has only been used two times in 22 years. (2002 & 2016)
  • The measure allows for 15% of the state aid to K-12 Public Education to remain protected for the historical use of the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund (only to be used to make state aid whole in the event of a statewide budget shortfall). 
  • The principal balance above the protected 15% may be used for education related purposes. 
  • At 2016 levels, 15% equates to $300 million. This dollar amount will be protected for the sole purpose of K-12 public education in the event of a statewide revenue shortfall. 
  • 10% of the oil extraction tax revenue will be placed into the fund annually. This year (2016) that amount is approximately $150 million. 
  • Based on data from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, it will take approximately $164 million more than the past biennium just to maintain the current level of funding.

2016 has been a challenging economic year within the state of North Dakota. Many state agencies received cuts due to the revenue shortfall. Thanks to the foresight of state leaders, public education was protected from cuts due mechanisms like the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund. The 65th legislative session may be a challenging one for our state legislators. If the state is unable to continue to provide current levels of financial support, this may result in local districts providing additional support. Based on projections, it seems that maintaining 15% within the fund should meet the needs if there are future revenue shortfalls. If Measure 2 passes it will be important to further define education related purposes for the excess dollars within the fund.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Individualizing PD through PLCs

We continue to revamp our Professional Learning Plan (PLP) for teachers. Each Professional Learning Community (PLC) completes the PLP at the beginning of the school year. The PLC guides their own learning through the format below. For the past two years, our Professional Development Committee has continued to tweak the PLP. The latest addition allows all PLCs to choose a peer observation option to fulfill the Observation and Integration of Learning component. I am proud of our work and the focus on making professional development more meaningful for teachers in our school district.

You can find the editable document within the Dropbox link above.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Second Annual STEM Camp this summer at Rugby Public Schools

We are excited to announce a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Camp this summer at the Rugby High School for students heading into grades 3-5 next school year.  The STEM camp will take place from 8:00AM – 12:00PM Monday – Friday beginning July 25th.  Highlights include: Biomes of the World, Buzzing a Hive, Bubble Festival, and Engineering Challenges. This will be a fun filled week to get kids excited about science. Registration forms can be found at Ely Elementary and the Rugby High School.  These forms are due by June 24th. The cost for a student is $40.00. Spots will be limited so sign up soon.  For questions contact or Mike McNeff at 776-5201.

Monday, July 25
8:00 AM - Noon
Biomes of the World
Tuesday, July 26
8:00 AM - Noon
Buzzing A Hive
Wednesday, July 27
8:00 AM - Noon
Bubble Festival
Thursday, July 28
8:00 AM - Noon
Engineering Challenge
Friday, July 29
8:00 AM - Noon
Engineering Challenge & Awards

Monday, May 2, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Week

Today is the start of Teacher Appreciation Week at Rugby Schools and across the nation. I think we can all remember that teacher that helped us at a certain time in our lives. In my own life I can remember several from elementary and high school. Teachers spend the majority of the day with our children and play a significant role in developing them into productive human beings. I am thankful for the teachers and support staff within our district. We have arranged small tokens of appreciation over the course of this week in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week at Rugby Public Schools. 

Thank a teacher today! 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Making Time for PLCs in a Time Deprived Day

I will be presenting at the North Dakota PLC Summit this week. As I was preparing my presentation I put together a few suggestions for districts that are exploring embedded PLC time.

We cannot expect this work to occur during their prep, after school, during lunch, before school and etc. I believe we must embed a specific time that is consistent across the district.

Find a consistent time that works for your district. The time should be consistent across the district. This will help administrators support each PLC. This will also help with vertical meetings that will need to occur to address gaps and overlaps with curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Meetings should occur at minimum once per week. If we aren’t meeting once per week we forget about our focus and it's harder to get back on track and use the time efficiently.

We need to ensure that this time is protected and considered sacred. People will try to consume this newly found time with meetings that don’t matter. Administrators need to protect this time. That means no practices, activity meetings, advisor meetings, and etc. The only thing that occurs during this time are activities that are associated with the PLC.

Target Wednesday morning for the day to implement PLCs. I truly believe there isn’t a better time than Wednesday morning. I don’t want our coaches and advisors to miss this time due to practice. There are typically less events and vacation days on Wednesdays.

What will you do with the students? We still allow all students to be dropped off at their regular times. In the elementary school, we have upwards of 100 students that head to the library to read silently, read with a friend, or be read to. This alone has been a positive for kids. For the remainder of our students we have our para educators supervise students.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Most Likely to Succeed documentary coming to Rugby

As an education advocate and school leader I am interested in having dialogue with others regarding the state of our educational system and what its future may look like. There will be an opportunity on April 7th at 7:00PM to view the educational documentary Most Likely to Succeed at the Lyric Movie Theater in Rugby. I encourage all stakeholders to attend this thought provoking documentary. I may not necessarily agree with everything within the film, but I will most certainly be open-minded about the topic. From my perspective we should be concerned about remaining relevant in our changing world. I welcome you to attend the free viewing of this educational documentary. 

The following is a summary of the film: 

The feature-length documentary Most Likely to Succeed examines the history of education in the United States, revealing the growing shortcomings of conventional education methods in today’s innovative world. The film explores compelling new approaches that aim to revolutionize teaching as we know it. After seeing this film, the way you think about “school” will never be the same. Over a century ago, American education underwent a dramatic transformation as the iconic one-room schoolhouse evolved into an effective system that produced an unmatched workforce tailored for the 20th Century. As the world economy shifts and traditional white-collar jobs begin to disappear, that same system remains intact, producing potentially chronic levels of unemployment among graduates in the 21st Century. The film follows students into the classrooms of High Tech High, an innovative new school in San Diego. There, over the course of a school year, two groups of ninth graders take on ambitious, project-based challenges that promote critical skills rather than rote memorization. Most Likely to Succeed points to a transformation in learning that may hold the key to success for millions of our youth – and our nation – as we grapple with the ramifications of rapid advances in technology, automation and growing levels of income inequality.

I hope to see you there. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What could you possibly achieve of quality in a single draft?

In our work life how often do we turn in something that has never been revised? Like the title says, "what could you possibly achieve of quality in a single draft?" When I think about all of the tasks that are required of me as a superintendent they mostly all entail some level of revision. I never send out something that has not been revised. I am sure that is the same answer we see in most professions, but in the school setting we tend to be more concerned with quantity of work and not quality. This blog post will undergo multiple revisions and I am sure I will still have a grammatical error or two.
"Students need to know from the outset that quality means rethinking, reworking, and polishing." - Ron Berger
Perhaps this focus on quantity has more to do with the shear amount of standards or possibly the overemphasis on covering the text book. Lets face it, we will never reach a level of deep understanding for all of the standards. We can certainly "cover" all of the standards if we are okay with only surface knowledge. I have written extensively about the PLC process and the development of power standards. The development of power standards are liberating in a sense, because it allows us to really hone in on what we want students to know and be able to do. We of course still teach all of the other stuff, but we report out on predetermined skills and content that the team deems as most important.

It is difficult to focus on quality when we have the mindset to cover. If we are going to ensure all will know and be able to do these 10-15 things then there should be multiple opportunities to develop mastery. If we are to require multiple revisions then we need to provide quality feedback and that takes time. Ron Berger suggests that we should use their peers to analyze and provide quality feedback.
"There is incredible learning potential in looking carefully at student work together as a group." 
Berger shares three rules when using peers for feedback:

Be Kind - No sarcasm or hurtful comments
Be Specific - No comments like It's good or I like it.
Be helpful - Don't waste our time.

Berger discusses two types of critique he uses to provide feedback: Gallery critique and in-depth critique.

Gallery Critique is when the work of every child is displayed. Students look at all of the work silently prior to providing comments. The primary focus should be to provide positive feedback. Students are to select examples from each piece that impress them and discuss why.

In-depth Critique focuses on the work of a single student or group. Students spend a good deal of time to critiquing it thoroughly. This provides a detailed process of making the work stronger.

When you look at both of these ways to critique student work the first thing that comes to mind is the shear amount of time required. It is certainly something that you cannot do for every standard, but I believe it could be used in some way for our power standards. This type of critique  and focus on quality is an excellent way to develop mastery. When there is an audience and student work is no longer a private affair between the student and the teacher, the overall quality improves.
"Ideally the promise of good grades and the threat of bad ones will keep everyone working hard. In reality, it doesn't work this way. Almost every school gives grades and yet has no shortage of poor-quality work. Not only do grades not insure quality work or effort, but in many cases grades work against student motivation." Ron Berger
If you are questioning the quality of student work find time to read An Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger.

How do you encourage multiple revisions and create time to do so?

The Rugby Early Learning Center is now taking applications for the 2016-2017 school year

Our preschool is now taking applications for the 2016-2017 school year. The application is due on April 1st and can be dropped off at any of these sites: Rugby High School, Ely Elementary, and the Rugby Early Learning Center. The program is free to all those who attend. Your child is eligible for the program if he or she is age three or four. It is a four day a week program (Monday - Thursday) and follows regular school hours. 

If you are curious of what a day for your child in our program looks like please click on the daily schedule below. 
We are pleased with the success of students that have attended our program. We started the Rugby Early Learning Center (a collaboration between RPS and Head Start) two years ago. Our first cohort's data are showing a positive academic trend. Below you will find data from our NWEA MAP Assessment. Please click on the image.

We are finding that the social and emotional benefits may outweigh the academic gains. Students who attend our program are able to work on some of the needed social and emotional skills prior to kindergarten. 

If you have further questions about our program please contact Michael McNeff at Rugby Public School District at (701) 776-5201. Thank you! 

Click on the links below to access our application and website: 



Monday, February 15, 2016

RELC showing positive gains

I am pleased with the early data that is coming back from our newly implemented preschool program. We started the Rugby Early Learning Center (a collaboration between RPS and Head Start) two years ago. We plan to follow each cohort as they progress through school. I have heard some of the recent reports that the benefits of preschool fade over time. Our first cohort's data is showing a positive trend. Below you will find data from our NWEA MAP Assessment.
We are currently taking applications for the 2016-2017 school year. Applications and more information can be found here.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Is it cool to care?

I am reading An Ethic of Excellence written by Ron Berger. This is an excellent book on building a strong school culture based on developing positive peer pressure within your school. There are a few questions that really made me think about our school culture.

Is it cool to show an interest in school, learning, and completing homework?

So what is the social norm in our school or your school? It is cool to care? What are we doing to ensure that they feel safe? Not just physically safe, but safe to take risks, safe to care about trying hard. 

How does a student behave in this school in order to fit in?

Where do students feel safe? 

What are the opportunities for the student to contribute, to create, and to be recognized for his or her talents or efforts? 

What motivates a student to care? 

There are many students who feel that school is just not a place that works for them. How do we build a school experience that doesn't alienate or cause resentment? 

Berger shares many thought provoking questions throughout his book. He is a believer in peer feedback and using multiple revisions to improve student work. The video linked below will give you some insight on his work. Take a minute to watch Austin's Butterfly below. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Every Student Succeeds Act, a great opportunity.

A few months ago Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and shortly thereafter the bill was signed into law by the President. What does this mean for the students of Rugby? In a nutshell, federal control over our education system will be greatly diminished. This is a good thing. There will still be accountability, but not to the extent that we have become accustomed to. This new legislation is very exciting for educators. It replaces the unreachable provisions that were within No Child Left Behind. I believe ESSA provides flexibility while still holding schools accountable for their achievement levels.

ESSA requires that each state create an accountability plan. The accountability plan must include: rigorous standards, identification of schools in the bottom five percent, annual testing, separation of data by student subgroup, and intervention in schools with less than a 67% graduation rate. Over the next two years our state will begin the work of developing our own accountability plan. The initial ESSA draft will be delivered to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction in June. There will be 60 days provided for input and public comment. The final rules will be completed by October 2016 and then the real work will begin.

There are many laws and policies that will need to be changed and adjusted to fit the provisions within ESSA. I have faith that we will develop a system of accountability that fits North Dakota. ESSA provides an excellent opportunity to shape our educational system into something we can be proud of.

Monday, January 4, 2016

PLC Progress Rubrics

I have been looking for a quality rubric to help our PLC teams and provide a clearer picture of the "right work" that should occur during our PLC meetings. I want to give credit to Matt Townsley for the document we modified below. 

As an admin team we are trying to maintain a tight and loose PLC culture. We want to get out of our teacher's way and allow them to collaborate freely. BUT, we understand that there should be some level of accountability. Rather than have them complete agendas and keep weekly minutes we have implemented what we call PLC Progress Meetings. Our administrative team will meet with each PLC during their hour of collaboration time that occurs once a week on Wednesdays. 

Using the document below, they will reflect, provide evidence, and decide what category their team falls in. We will collect these prior to the meeting, provide feedback, and next steps for each PLC team. 

Here are the four domains we want them to reflect on: 

Power Standard Development:
What do we want student to know and be able to do? We need to unpack the standards into student friendly terms. We call them "I Can Statements." Here is our district's elementary Power Standards.
Common Formative Assessment Development
How do we know they have learned it? The assessment guides our next decision and allows us to figure out who has mastered the material or skill. 
Data Analysis Development
Are we being deliberate in identifying those students that need extra help and also those that need enrichment?
Action Plan Development 
This is where the rubber meets the road. Are we taking action? Are we responding when a students struggles on a specific standard? Are we responding when a student already knows the material or has the skill?

You can access this file at my Dropbox if you are interested in using or modifying the document.