Friday, January 23, 2015

Terese Jurgensen 1/22/15

Iowa Assessments
During this week's update, I will focus on the upcoming Iowa Assessments. The featured high stakes testing that is held yearly in Iowa and indeed, across many states to test student proficiency. As many know, we are a School in Need of Assistance - Year 4.

What many do not know about the Iowa Assessments
As the lead administrator for Crestwood Elementary School for our SINA plan, I have learned a great deal about the facts concerning Iowa Assessments and the School in Need of Assistance plan that is outlined by the Federal Government. In September 2014, "The Iowa Department of Education released the statewide Annual Yearly Progress report Tuesday, and more than 50 percent of the state’s 1,356 public schools made the School in Need of Assistance or SINA list." Another "title" that can follow a school is the acronym DINA or Districts in Need of Assistance. The Chief of Iowa Department of Education Information Bureau, Jay Pennington, stated during this same time period, “In terms of districts, a total of 45 out of the 346, or 13-percent, were identified as districts in need of assistance (DINA) for the 14-15 school year. Which is up from the 11.8 percent of districts from the year before,” Pennington says. School Districts as of the year 2014, were expected to make 100% proficiency. The State of Iowa has set the proficiency standard as 41%, where other states set their bars much lower. This says a lot for the high expectations that we, as Iowans, set for our students. Howard-Winneshiek is not on the DINA list. 

Bradley Buck, the Director of the Department of Education reported,  changing targets (100% proficiency) are a problem. “While I believe in accountability, No Child Left Behind has outlived its usefulness as a lever for improving student achievement. This is a flawed law that continues to unfairly label schools as failures,” according to Buck. “While most states have received waivers from key components of No Child Left Behind — in Iowa we must continue to follow the law in the absence of permanent relief.” Iowa has not received a waiver for NCLB because of its teacher evaluation system.

Moving Forward....the Plan
Last week our SINA team met to discuss our plan of action as we face the testing window period for Iowa Assessments during the weeks of March 9th - March 20th. My personal belief system is one of Positive Peer Culture...None of us is as strong as all of us! 

Therefore, outlined here is our plan to support our students, set positive goals individually with students and most importantly set a positive school-wide goal for all of our students!
  1. Students will have the opportunity to practice the Iowa Assessments - we have ordered the famed "bubble sheets" and practice assessments for our students to learn how to transfer information from the knowledge they possess, to bubble sheets - something students do not have an opportunity to do in our 21st Century Learning School. Please note - the fact that we don't use "bubble sheets" is not a bad thing!
  2. Students have anxiety about timed tests (I am not a believer) and will have the opportunity to practice this form of testing in order to relieve and hopefully remove this fear - to create confidence in them - we have smart kids!
  3. During the weeks of mid-February, grade-level teams will meet for 1/2 a day and dissect the MAP and FAST data test scores that will be just completed, to see core issues and/or root causes for any student deficiencies in the area of reading and math. Collaboration is key!
  4. Classroom teachers will meet individually with students and set personal goals - a 21st Century Skill that even our kindergartners are learning how to do!
  5. Our building principals will visit each classroom and set the tone that we are working as "One Team!" We will have a Crestwood Goal of proficiency for student achievement. 
  6. I am working closely with Michelle Bakken, our district data "guru" to develop a school wide goal to look at our scores and how these scores will improve if each student would answer one or two more answers correctly than they did the year this extra effort will increase our proficiency rates. 
  7. The bottom line is to Decrease Test Anxiety - Increase Student Achievement - and to increase a Positive Peer Culture at Crestwood Elementary!
  8. Exciting News - Our BIG BLAST school-wide celebration will be held on March 20th, to celebrate our students' hard work and best efforts!

21st Century Learning for Crestwood Students!
After School Tutoring - Collaboration!

3rd Grade Students - Hands on Learning!
5th Grade Students Coding!

Have a great week!  I look forward to

your comments & suggestions to make 

Crestwood Elementary Schools

an even better place for community learning!
Respectfully,Terese Jurgensen

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