October 5, 2009

State testing and traditions.....hmmmm?

Wasted a bunch of time (and paper) today printing off practice tests so that students could prepare for the high stakes (but practically worthless) WKCE exam.  A test that sets the bar so low that if a student is identified as proficient you may still have to be concerned that your child could fail classes and not score well enough on the ACT or SAT to get into college.

There is talk that Wisconsin will finally create a new state test.  Hopefully a computerized test that will return results to schools within a couple of weeks.  A test that stays consistent so you can see student growth and compare apples to apples.  Of course there are those folks that also would like to keep the test the same.  They want the test to stay focused on a state approved curriculum.  What the heck for?  What is so special about Badgers, Lead mining, Governor Dodge, Dolly Madison and all of the other local garbage that we need to test to see if our students learned it.  And why does it need to be tested?  does it make you ready for a job in Wisconsin?  You need skills to be ready for a job in the 21st century, not localized facts about the history of a quirky state....and yes, I am from this quirky state.  Some folks just have trouble letting go of tradition I guess.

October 3, 2009

September Down, lots done.....Lots to Go!

Wow! The first month of school blew by quickly. It is October already and while it seems to have gone quickly it is hard to believe all that we have accomplished as well. MAP Testing is over and we have finished our first attempt at AIMSweb benchmarking. Looking forward to the additional data on student achievement. I am hopeful that this will help us greatly in the implementation of our RTI model. Compass Learning is up and running and it looks like it will be a great tool for the students and reinforces the importance of our MAP testing. We invested in the online version of the Everyday Math games suite. Unfortunately all of this added technology has slightly slowed our network and completely overrun our IT director.

The new schedule we created has had some bonuses (collaborative planning time) but it has some setbacks as well (the Sp Ed teachers and aides seem stretched). We have our new report cards almost all ready to go and they look so much better than what we used to have going parents may just go into shock over the change. Why they will be implemented this year, we will have to wait until next year to try to switch to a Trimester reporting calendar. The Trimester will line up much better with our MAP Testing periods. This way teachers will be able to report on student progress with the help of our MAP data, AIMSweb benchmarking, and curricular coursework.

I have found a few new books to read for personal improvement, but I would recommend them to almost any leader. As a matter of fact I would even encourage teachers to read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. The other two are Crucial Conversations and Influencer. Another audiobook I have enjoyed and benefitted from is "The Big Moo" which was written by about 30 authors and is getting at making whatever you do remarkable. Check em out!