19 December 2011


...from the Iowa Department of Education Website:

What is it?
Efforts are underway to streamline the collection process of reports, data and progress for districts and schools. This streamlining process will be titled the Consolidated Plan or C-plan for short. The hope is that the C-Plan will be an ongoing or living document for districts/schools to use locally and not just for reporting and compliance to the DE.

Why is it needed?
Currently, LEAs are required to complete 10-15 reporting plans and there is much overlap in the requested information between these plans. Consolidation of these plans will reduce the burden, costs and time for LEA, AEA, DE and others.  In addition, the DE is responding to requests from AEAs and LEAs for several years for simpler or consolidated plans.

What plans are included?
The five plans that have been identified for inclusion:
·       The Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP)
·       Annual Progress Report (APR)
·       Iowa Core Implementation Plan
·       District Developed Service Delivery Plan (DDSDP)
·       Schools In Need of Assistance/Districts in need of Assistance (SINA/DINA) Plan

Additional plans will be considered for inclusion at a future date.

Who’s involved at the DE? 
This project enjoys the support and involvement of many people at the DE.  In addition a C-plan project team has been created to facilitate the organization of the project they include:
·       Del Hoover (Accreditation and Improvement Services)
·       Karla Day (Teaching and Learning Services)
·       Janell Brandhorst (Student and Family Support Services)
·       Isaiah McGee (Accreditation and Improvement Services)
·       Holly Barnes (Accreditation and Improvement Services)
·       Lisa Albers (Media and Communications Services)
·       Jaci Bodensteiner (Information and Analysis Services)
·       Ciji Alias (Information and Analysis Services)
·       Judy Russell (Early Childhood Services)
·       Thomas Cooley (Adult, Career, and Community College Education)
·       Ellen McGinnis-Smith (Student and Family Support Services)
·       Cindy Butler (Accreditation and Improvement Services)
·       Sharon Hawthorne (Student and Family Support Services)

When will it be completed?
The team has been working an aggressive timeline for project completion. Initial work has included defining the cycle of plans, reviewing existing systems, and determining key stakeholders. A mock up will be shared with various stakeholders (DE, AEAs, LEAs, etc.) for feedback at the end of the year.  The C-plan will be ready for use in the summer of 2012 and will be required for schools and districts to use for the 2012-2013 school year.


Iowa Tests Form E

The 2011-12 school year marks the first time Iowa School districts will administer Form E of the Iowa Tests to students in grades 2-11.  For many, that fact raises several questions.  Can we still compare district progress from year to year?  What are the implications for NCLB? How will I continue to track my student's growth over time?  What are we losing in this switch?  Why on earth did "they" make such drastic revisions? Here are a few talking points that will help people manage the change:
  • student reports will contain the same metrics-national percentile rank and national standard score; we will retain our historical trend data
  • because this is the first year of form E test administration, there will be no Iowa percentile rank or Iowa standard score
  • student growth from "old" forms to form E have been accounted for; growth analysis from last year to this year can still occur
  • form E is aligned to the Iowa Core, our state-mandated curriculum in the areas of mathematics, social sciences, science, and reading, writing, and language arts
  • the newly revised Iowa tests will provide one data point within a balanced assessment system that shows how FCSD students are performing in relation to essential grade level concepts and skills
  • proficiency will remain the term that describes students who score at or above the 41st percentile

16 December 2011

Secondary Science Alternative Assessment Revision

K-12 Science Benchmarks were approved by the FCSD Board of Directors in June of 2011.  So, now what?  In order to ensure that the written (benchmarks) and the measured (assessments) are aligned and assist the delivery our enacted (instruction) curriculum, it is essential that the District alternate assessments be revised to align with the new written curriculum.  On December 13-14th, middle and high school science departments gathered to revise the alternate assessments, administered in district since 2001. Revision work consisted of item construction, benchmark alignment, prioritized content learning, and construction of a data analysis protocol that ensures student data generated will be used to inform future programming enhancements and daily instruction. Resources from the Iowa Core and National Council for Teachers of Science were utilized.

Gender Balance

Effective Jan. 1 is the amendment to Iowa Code section 69.16A, requiring that statutory boards and committees appointed by Local Education Agencies and Area Education Agencies be gender-balanced . For LEAs (school districts), there are three groups affected: School Improvement Advisory Committee, Teacher Quality Committees and Local Advisory Council for Vocational Education. The exception to this rule is that an individual may be appointed, even if the appointment does not achieve gender balance, if the LEA demonstrates it has made a good faith (but unsuccessful) effort for a period of three months to appoint a qualified person whose appointment would comply with the gender balance requirement. FCSD currently is in compliance with these mandates. Committee members can bee seen for Teacher Quality, District Advisory, and CTE Advisory online.

Measures of Academic Progress: MAP

One requirement tied to the state of Iowa’s Microsoft Settlement Claim is for participating school districts to implement a new standardized assessment in addition to currently administered standardized assessments. 
FCSD chose the MAP assessments from NWEA.  These assessments were selected because of the wealth of information provided to classroom teachers in a value-added fashion. Value added means that there are multiple administrations (3) throughout the course of a school year, which provide teachers with data that measures annual student growth. The MAP assessments are aligned with the Iowa Core and report data in an “Iowa Core” fashion. This fall, FCSD assessed students in the areas of reading and mathematics in grades 4, 8, and 10.  Students will be assessed again in the winter and spring.There are future plans to expand the grade levels tested beyond the scope of Fairfield’s Microsoft Projects, but we are starting small due to cost. Through the Microsoft Settlement Claim, the following resources were purchased:
· MAP Assessments
· Gr. 10 Language Arts Laptop Cart
· K-8 Reading/Mathematics Intervention Software
· Student Information Systems Costs: Infinite Campus/Tableau
· Grade 4  Laptops
· FMS Computer Lab

Differentiated Instruction through Technology

If you have ever had a cell phone, a laptop, or a computer, you know what I am talking about.  It is difficult to keep children’s hand off technological devices. Kids LOVE technology!
Under the leadership of Tina Breen, FMS and Fairfield elementary teachers are working very hard to effectively integrate technology into the classrooms. The district goal in this arena is to most effectively align intervention and enrichment software and 2.0 technologies with student learning.  An example of effective technology integration is elementary classroom teacher use of RAZ Kids, an online reading program that assists students in progressing from their current reading level to the next.  It requires students to master reading comprehension and improve upon fluency before “graduating to the next level”.  If you would like to see one of many teachers who are incorporating technology into student learning, check out Shelley Carter’s blog at: http://carterseondgrade.blogspot.com/

Tableau and Response to Intervention

It has often been said that in Fairfield, we are data rich but information poor.  This means that we have student data on the right types of assessments, but that it is not always easy for teachers and building principals to access this student information. In a Response to Intervention (RTI) system, collective student achievement data must be easily accessible for teachers and administrators in order for them to respond in a timely manner to student needs. Tableau is a data viewing instrument that we are data rich but information poor.  This means that we have student data on the right types of assessments, but that it is not always easy for teachers and building principals to access this student information. 
In a Response to Intervention (RTI) system, collective student achievement data must be easily accessible for teachers and administrators in order for them to respond in a timely manner to student needs. 
Tableau is a data viewing instrument that allows teachers to access common benchmark assessments in real time in order for them to plan instruction and systemic intervention in a timely fashion. 
The K-8 administered Jerry L. Johns Basic Reading Inventory (BRI) and the K-8 District Math Inventories are two examples of data that will more accurately and effectively inform instruction for all students. 
Teachers will view the data from Tableau and then use the information to:  group students for instructionally sensitive instruction,  progress monitor growth, and collect data for identification of students who qualify for special programs. The purpose of an RTI system is to ensure that students at all levels are receiving the type of instruction and intervention that most suits their individual needs. FCSD is moving forward with entering student data into Tableau for teacher viewing.  Currently,  teachers cannot access Tableau but will be trained on it in the near future.

2011-12 Title VI

Again this year, under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), Iowa was allocated funds to support the development of statewide assessment systems in a way that would enable the requirements of the Act to be met. Since assessment systems reside at the local level, it is appropriate that a majority of these funds are distributed to public school districts. These funds are meant to provide support for local district assessment systems.

The DE will allocate funds to public school districts based on a per-pupil (K-12) amount of $6.50 to support efforts to enhance your district-wide assessment system while meeting the expectations of NCLB. These funds will be able to be used for LEA activities directed toward meeting
state and federal assessment, accountability, and reporting requirements. The intent is that these funds are to be used to supplement or enhance your current assessment system, not to supplant funds currently allocated.
Allowable activities include personnel (time), supplies, and equipment directly related to:
• Developing assessments for district reading, mathematics, and science standards;
• Aligning district-wide assessments to local standards and benchmarks;
• Purchase of off-the-shelf assessments used to measure standards;
• Scoring of district-wide assessments;
• Analysis and reporting of assessment data;
• Professional development related to implementation of district-wide assessments; and
costs associated with management of the district-wide assessment system.

FCSD will utilize Title VI funds to cover teacher release time and hire testers.  During this time, teachers will collectively score common assessments, develop common benchmark assessments, and align current assessment objectives to the Iowa Core.  In addition, Title VI funds will be used to pay for the programming associated with the development and publication of standards-based report cards at the elementary level. 

Fairfield Middle School SINA Year 3

FMS is preparing to offer its first round of supplemental educational services for qualifying students.  This tutoring opportunity will be provided by KeBecca, formerly known as Educare, out of Cedar Rapids.  In this program, students are remediated in the areas of  reading comprehension and mathematics.  The company trains FMS teachers to implement the KeBecca program.  Students will have 30 1/2 hour sessions.  These sessions will be held after school from 3:30-4:00 pm in the FMS Media Center. 
This service is made possible for our students through the FMS SINA  Year 3 status.
The MS submitted its SINA plan on December 5, 2011.  The plan can be read online on the district’s website.

14 December 2011

More Than Just a Report Card

K-5 elementary teachers in FCSD continue to work on their standards-based practices.  Ask any one of them; this is definitely more than just a report card revision. 
This shift has required teacher change on a variety of levels, from interpretation of the intent of each benchmark for assessment construction to more specific communication with parents.  Fairfield teachers have risen to the occasion, and I could not be more proud  or respectful of their involvement in this process.
This professional learning has a direct correlation to student achievement; the professional learning IS  the work teachers need to do for students.  
Parental feedback gathered on November 19, 2011 indicated details about which parents were concerned.  Lack of papers being sent home and no connection to the online parent portal were two of the most common points.  Another concern was a lack of consistency with interpretation of a “5” score.  Although the report cards have been issued for quarter 1, the work and learning is far from done.  Next steps in this standards-based journey include tying practices more closely to Infinite Campus, our student information system; developing alignment between special education evaluation and reporting; and establishing district grade level reporting, and a comprehensive assessment plan complete with cut scores and archival of assessment purpose.
A copy of  the parent informational letter sent earlier this fall can be accessed online at: http://www.fairfieldsfuture.org under the “Curriculum” tab.