Have You Heard About CHS’s Writer’s Workshop?

Among its many programs and services, Colchester High School offers a valuable resource known as the Writer’s Workshop.

Although budget cuts resulted in the elimination of the workshop’s coordinator position in 2010, this long-running, invaluable offering for students has survived thanks to a number of different teachers who staff the class space during “duty” time—such responsibilities as covering study halls, lunch supervision, and the like. Because of this coordinated effort, the workshop is open to assist students during nearly every mod.

While the number of students who typically take advantage of the workshop in a given year is difficult to estimate, the fact is that a great number of them do. In doing so, students receive individualized tutoring, allowing them to receive customized help at every readiness level across all grades and subjects. The guidance provided in the workshop covers a wide spectrum—everything from helping students get started on a particular assignment to organizing their writing to looking over a piece of writing before a student submits it for a grade. CHS students have utilized the Writer’s Workshop for writing assistance with everything from humanities classes to science lab reports and even the occasional math assignment. The workshop typically sees more traffic with quarter-end papers and during college application season.

Although comparable programs can often be found on a collegiate level, writing resources such as this are not typically available at the high school level, which further serves to set Colchester High School apart.

Please join us by subscribing—keep in touch with Colchester School District. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Impasse Declared in Contract Negotiations

The contract negotiations between the Colchester School Board and the Teachers Association have reached an impasse over salaries and other areas.

It is anticipated that the negotiation process will move into mediation in July.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Please join us by subscribing—keep in touch with Colchester School District. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Superintendent Delivers Commendations and Recommendations to CMS

After temporarily moving his office to Colchester Middle School in order to conduct a three-month appreciative inquiry, Superintendent Larry Waters has delivered a list of commendations and recommendations to CMS’s leadership team and administration as part of an effort to enhance performance and instruction.

Among the commendations CMS received were those concerning the educators’ welcoming response to the appreciative inquiry and their desire for additional professional development opportunities in order to enhance their instructional practices. Other commendations included the supportive and caring environment the educators at CMS provide for the students across all grade levels, as well as the strong collaboration among teachers.

The superintendent’s comprehensive recommendations focused upon five areas of interest, including leadership, climate, instruction, time, and strategy. A sample of the recommendations includes the need for clear roles and responsibilities for members on the administrative team, improved management of student behavior, increased focus upon differentiated instruction, the need for alignment in teacher expectations for student support time, and the need for structured planning time for teachers so that they may align their curriculum with student needs.

As the result of the appreciative inquiry and the superintendent’s resulting commendations and recommendations, CMS will develop a strategy for implementing additional professional development opportunities, including participation in an intensive leadership institute, in its effort to improve performance and instruction.

Following the appreciative inquiry, Superintendent Waters reestablished his office at Central Office.

Please join us by subscribing—keep in touch with Colchester School District. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

CSD Seeks Committee Members for Interim Principal Selection

Colchester School District has an opening for a principal at Colchester Middle School for the 2011–2012 school year.

A search team will be assembled to identify and select a candidate for an interim position. We are seeking community representation—ideally consisting of one CSD parent and one Colchester community member—to serve on the search team.

We anticipate that the team will interview three to four candidates during the week of July 18. The goal is to select the interim principal by the end of July.

Those interested in serving on the search team are asked to contact Cathy Ward at (802) 264-5985 or by e-mail at wardc@csdvt.org by Friday, July 1.

New Police Station on CSD Property?

The Town of Colchester has bonded to build a new police station, but the question of whether it will be built on school property has been the subject of some debate.

The original multimillion-dollar, three-phase facilities upgrades initiative in the Town of Colchester was to upgrade the town garage, build a new town office building, and upgrade the existing administration building for use as a police station. However, intentions shifted toward building a new police station after it was determined that properly renovating the former administration building for use as a police station would be more costly than designing and building a brand-new facility.

During discussions concerning where to construct the proposed police station, the four-acre parcel sandwiched between Laker Lane and Blakely Road was suggested as an option. Other Town of Colchester facilities are currently maintained on school property, including Colchester Rescue, Colchester Technical Rescue, and half of the town garage. The suggestion was that, if the Town of Colchester leased the land for the new police station from the school district, the school could then use the former police station for its new administrative offices.

Such a move would pave the way for future cost-saving measures by combining such services as Human Resources, payroll, maintenance, and the like for the Town of Colchester and the Colchester School District. Additionally, vacating the school district’s current administrative office building on Laker Lane would allow the students enrolled in Colchester Alternative Program (CAP) to move into that space. This relocation would allow the CAP students to be on campus and allow them access to the district’s voice and data network. It would also allow them to transition from their current tight quarters into a larger, more efficient working space. Furthermore, the move would release the district from its current rental and utilities cost obligations—estimated at approximately $30,000–35,000 annually—in order to maintain CAP in its current location on Blakely Road.

The school district would also benefit from increased security as the result of the police presence on campus.

There are some differences of opinion regarding the feasibility of such an arrangement. Concerns for rare and protected plants on the proposed building site have been raised, as has the issue of the fair market value of the old administration building offsetting the cost of leasing the land—although this concern was not voiced for the other Town facilities on school property. There are also concerns that this arrangement would exacerbate the already difficult traffic situation at the intersection of Blakely Road and Laker Lane at certain times of the day—although the option of building a second exit onto Blakely Road from the property has been proposed to mitigate that issue. Additionally, per statute, the Town may not enter into a long-term lease (defined as more than three years) without obtaining permission from the voters.

On November 3, 2009, voters approved Article 812-788 at a special meeting to “use the funds already approved by the voters previously to be reallocated to finance a police station on Laker Lane in the Town of Colchester.”

Meanwhile, although Severance Corners has been suggested as alternative location for the proposed police station, it, too, comes with its own set of challenges, particularly from a funding perspective.

The discussion remains ongoing.

Enjoying these articles about our district community? Please join us by subscribing—receive new articles the moment they are published! Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

A Closer Look At PPS’s 2011 Annual Report

Wrapping up our discussion of the 2011 Annual Report to the school board, let’s discuss Porters Point School’s contribution in a bit more detail.

As with the other schools, PPS’s charts include statistics on reading and math achievement as measured by the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests. As a quick recap, the NECAP test results are used primarily for school improvement and accountability initiatives as required under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

As with Union Memorial School’s scores, because NECAP tests in reading and mathematics are administered to students in grades 3 through 8, and writing tests are administered to students in grades 5 and 8, the statistics in PPS’s bar graphs represent the percentage of third graders who attended Porters Point School who are considered proficient—or proficient with distinction—on the NECAP examinations in reading or math for the given year.

The charts also break down achievement results by gender and by socioeconomic status. The percentages listed under the years on the bottom of the charts represent the percentage of students who are classified as “Low SES,” or low socioeconomic status, which, by definition in a school setting, is any student who receives a free or reduced-price lunch. As is demonstrated by these statistics, the poverty rate at Porters Point School has climbed over the last five years. In spite of this, notice how the NECAP test scores remain high.

Please also note that PPS’s math scores continue to climb, and PPS students have consistently made adequate yearly progress (AYP).

Enjoying these articles about our district community? Please join us by subscribing—receive new articles the moment they are published! Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

A Closer Look at UMS’s 2011 Annual Report

Continuing along with our discussion of the 2011 Annual Report to the school board, let’s discuss Union Memorial School’s contribution a bit further.

UMS’s charts include statistics on reading and math achievement as measured by the previously discussed New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests. NECAP tests are administered in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont as part of each state’s assessment program, and the results are used primarily for school improvement and accountability initiatives as required under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

Because NECAP tests in reading and mathematics are administered to students in grades 3 through 8, and writing tests are administered to students in grades 5 and 8, the statistics in UMS’s bar graphs represent the percentage of third graders who attended Union Memorial School who are considered proficient—or proficient with distinction—on the NECAP examinations in reading or math for the given year.

The charts also break down achievement results by gender and by socioeconomic status. The percentages listed under the years on the bottom of the charts represent the percentage of students who are classified as “Low SES,” or low-socioeconomic status, which, by definition in a school setting, is any student who receives a free or reduced-price lunch. As is demonstrated by these statistics, the poverty rate at Union Memorial School has doubled over the last five years.

An important highlight of Union Memorial School’s 2010–2011 academic year is the four teachers—Christine Anderson, Judy Flanagan, Erin Sorenson, and Darlene Mulcahy—who were featured in a video entitled Creating Equity and Excellence for All Learners through Differentiated Instruction, which was sponsored by the Hope Foundation and produced by Pure Imagination, Inc. The video highlights expertise in differentiated instruction, and only a few schools nationwide were selected to participate—Union Memorial School being among them. Please visit Union Memorial School’s website for video clips of this achievement. Additional information about it can also be found on Principal Antonicci’s blog.

Enjoying these articles about our district community? Please join us by subscribing—receive new articles the moment they are published! Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

A Closer Look at MBS’s 2011 Annual Report

Continuing with our discussion about CSD’s June 7 presentation of the 2011 Annual Report to the school board, let’s delve a bit further into Malletts Bay School’s contribution and talk a bit more about what their statistics represent.

First of all, based upon NECAP data, Malletts Bay School exceeds the state average in reading, math, writing, and science. This is important to note; it demonstrates a level of quality and accountability in education surpassing that of many other institutions around the state.

Let’s discuss the charts outlining achievement gaps a bit further.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, each state had to create or choose a yearly test, often called “high stakes” tests (and Vermont uses the aforementioned NECAP assessments for this purpose). Under the law, schools are accountable for disaggregated data (in other words, data separated into its component parts), because students in vulnerable populations were historically being left behind. Any school with at least forty students in a subgroup disaggregates data for that group—and this is important, because schools without at least forty students in a subgroup do not have to disaggregate data for this purpose.

So the gaps described in these charts are the disaggregated data, including NECAP scores for economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. “FRPL” is “Free or Reduced-Price Lunch,” which is one measure of poverty used by the federal government, and “IEP” is “Individualized Education Program” for students with disabilities.

On a lighter, less data-driven note, the selection of the osprey as the school’s new mascot was the result of a Principal’s Challenge, followed by nominations and a subsequent school-wide vote. Students received “I Voted!” stickers from Vermont’s secretary of state. MBS Student Anna Eaton nominated the osprey, which not only grows very quickly—much like MBS students—but which was endangered and saved by responsible citizens.

The MBS community is excited about its goals of consistency, coherence, and connections, and it is proud of its wonderful staff that works very hard to make a difference for all of its students. The administration and staff at Malletts Bay School also offer their sincere appreciation for the active participation of parents who have spearheaded MBS’s extensive wellness efforts, such as Girls on the Run and the MBS gardens. The extensive community involvement is a very strong feature of the MBS community.

Enjoying these articles about our district community? Please join us by subscribing—receive new articles the moment they are published! Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Vision Summit a Success … and Just the Beginning

The highly anticipated Vision Summit on June 15 & 16 was a hugely successful event and a shining example of the synergy that invested community members can create together.

The summit was designed and planned in a collaborative effort between the district’s administration and dedicated parents and community members. Pre-planning meetings took place in November and February to pave the way for this successful community event.

The ideas generated and the information collected over the course of the two-day summit will be compiled and analyzed by the team tasked with writing the strategic plan for Colchester schools. As Superintendent Larry Waters said at the summit’s conclusion, “This is the very beginning of our work here.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Approximately sixty-five people representing a wide range of ages, backgrounds, experiences, and careers attended the summit, all of whom viewed student artwork and listened to small chorus and band ensembles. Some of the participants took home door prizes donated by area sponsors.

The two-day event was structured around one-on-one interviews, small group discussions and collaboration, and whole-group presentations. The different discussion formats were used to generate a variety of wish lists, which were then aligned and unified in order to identify the common elements. The summit culminated with group planning centering around how to achieve those unified elements in our schools.

The wealth of ideas and beliefs about learning generated at the summit are too numerous to list here, but among them were the following:

• Schools should allow students to be more self-directed, and students’ interests should be a larger component of their education.
• Students should have more of a voice in their own learning, and they should be treated as colleagues rather than as subordinates.
• Learning can and should occur less in the classroom and more in the community; there should be more community-based activities in students’ education, and the community should be a support mechanism in the schools.
• The community isn’t just about Colchester, because technology makes the world smaller—so we need to utilize that more effectively while still bearing in mind that technology cannot replace face-to-face communication.
• We need to change the definition of school to not simply mean a physical space or an institution and the definition of student to not simply refer to those between the ages of 5 and 21 but rather to all of us in the community—all of us are lifelong students, and our community should support that.
• We must change what failure means, allowing it to become more of a learning experience rather than something resulting in punishment.

Co-facilitator Marge Schiller, who has led numerous summits of a similar nature over the course of her career, noted that the participants in this summit had a number of very similar goals and visions for the district, particularly the interest in intergenerational learning and activities. She also said that the many personal stories that participants shared really fueled the discussions and created a huge impact. She observed that there was a tremendous amount of ownership and involvement in this summit by the Colchester citizens.

Bill Romond, a retired deputy commissioner with the Vermont Department of Education, a member of Mobius’ board of directors, and a former CSD teacher, said, “The summit exceeded my expectations because of the unanimity of view. It was very comprehensive and collaborative, and there was a call for community commitment to be a part of the system. The [appreciative inquiry] process was really helpful in that it is designed to leverage strengths rather than focusing upon weaknesses.”

CMS’s assistant principal, Peg Gillard, said, “I was really inspired by the involvement of our students. They really contributed a lot, and I really appreciated it.”

Parent and community member Tom Bacon added, “There were so many great ideas and so much passion that it was hard to stay on topic.”

At the summit’s conclusion, Superintendent Larry Waters said, “This is one of the greatest community buy-in projects I’ve ever been in.”

Alec Kozlowski, who will enter his senior year at CHS this fall and who has won acclaim for his work in film, captured the summit in this video.

As a closing remark, here is a quote from Dr. Lilian Katz, which was provided at the summit by MBS principal Julie Benay:

I really believe that each of us must come to care about everyone else’s children. We must come to see that the welfare of our own individual children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people’s children. After all, when one of our own children needs life-saving surgery, someone else’s child will perform it; when one of our own children is threatened or harmed by violence on the streets, someone else’s child will commit it. The good life for our own children can only be secured if it is also secured for all other people’s children. But to worry about other people’s children is not just a practical matter; it is a moral and ethical one: to strive to secure the welfare of all other people’s children is also right.
—Dr. Lilian Katz

A Closer Look at CMS’s 2011 Annual Report

Following our previous announcement about about CSD’s June 7 presentation of the 2011 Annual Report to the school board, let’s discuss Colchester Middle School’s contribution a bit further.

As has been discussed in previous posts, the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests are administered in Vermont and in other states around New England as a means of measuring scholastic performance as required under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. Each year, Measured Progress assesses student results and determines cutoff scores for each of the four achievement levels, which, as previously discussed, are as follows:

4 = Proficient with Distinction
3 = Proficient
2 = Partially Proficient
1 = Substantially Below Proficient

Students receiving an achievement level of 2 or 1 are considered to not be making adequate yearly progress (AYP). Scores are disaggregated by some specific categories, such as students who receive free or reduced-price lunch, students with disabilities, and by racial designation. Colchester Middle School’s AYP status is determined by its performance as a whole school as well as the performance of each subgroup.

Because the goal of NCLB is for all students to achieve 100% proficiency by 2014, the score expectations for each achievement level (4, 3, 2, and 1) all increased substantially. As a result of its NECAP test scores, CMS has been identified as a school in need of improvement for the second year in a row—one of 216 schools in Vermont that are on the school identification list.

Colchester Middle School’s leadership team and administration are carefully examining data and instructional practices and are considering all supports for students in drafting a plan of response for its identification status.

Enjoying these articles about our district community? Please join us by subscribing—receive new articles the moment they are published! Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Previous Older Entries

Enter your e-mail address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by e-mail!

Join 1,269 other followers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,269 other followers