October 2015 Principal’s Chat…. REVEALED

The usual suspects gathered to chat up Ms. Maza.  Janet began with a brief overview of the purpose of the Principal’s Chat itself.  Basically, this event is to generate ideas, clear up confusion, and facilitate her communication to the parent community.  It is NOT a snark attack on any one teacher or student.  Okay, then!  Moving on….

State Report Card Time: Not Much Substance  

To quote Janet, BSE’s state report card was “lots of paper with very little info.”  Seriously?  Here’s a brief background for all the newcomers.  Oregon previously used the the OAKS Test to ensure that Oregon students were learning.  Oregon also had to answer to the federal government with No Child Left Behind (where 100% of students had to meet benchmarks).  Well, turns out 100% is hard to meet.  Oregon applied for a waiver and basically told the feds, “Hey!  We can’t do that, so we’re gonna measure student growth instead.  That cool?”

But here’s the thing.  Measuring student growth is an incredibly tedious and counter-intuitive process that confuses parents everywhere, especially in the age of Common Core, hence the notorious reputation of… wait for it… the new Smarter Balance Assessment  (cue nails on a chalkboard).  Smarter Balance is harder than the OAKS because it is no longer multiple choice.  Students have to highlight evidence from the text and type in thoughtful answers.  Just choosing answer C won’t help you here.  Right now, it’s only for grades three through five, assessing English Language Arts and Math.

And to make it even more annoying, how schools are RATED has changed as well.  Suddenly having the majority of kids score high isn’t good enough (Arg!).   Our school rating is now a combination of  25% Academic Achievement (high scores), 50% for Academic Growth (the confusing part) and 25% for Subgroup Growth (students of poverty, students with disabilties, English Learners and underserved ethnicities).  

Bonny Slope scored exceptionally well this go round of Smarter Balance.  The goal was for 54.5% of our students to meet the English language standards.  87.5% of our students met that standard.  Whoop!  Pop the martinellis!  Actually, not so fast.  BSE had three subgroups not score as well as their counterparts in "like" schools.  If that continues, that’ll bring down our rating.  However, as previously discussed at the LAST Principal’s Chat, our leaders have a plan.

Back to measuring student growth… how does THAT work?  Well, it means a child that scored in the 97th percentile his first year will be measured against the average growth of other students that scored a 97.  This student would need to score as well or better than THE OTHER 97 PERCENTILES.  Our students are being compared to their ACADEMIC peers-- not necessarily their classroom peers.  And we’ll need another year’s data to really figure out how BSE is doing in this department.

But seriously… WHO CARES?  Does our Oregon Report Card really matter?  Huh… turns out it does.  Oregon needs to prove that it is assessing student growth (in order to obtain the waiver exempting it from No Child Left Behind).  If Oregon is unable to prove this, the state would lose federal funding.

And how did BSE do so well?  Save the high stakes for Vegas. According to Janet, our teachers provided a no-stress enviornment that tested the kids in smaller time chunks that allowed kids to finish stress-free.

Other Juicy Tidbits

IRLA assessments are in full swing but they do take awhile -- sometimes up to 45 minutes PER CHILD.  The new system is being hailed as a massive improvement, but it does take time to get off the ground.  So far, a lot of teachers are finding that BSE students need work on academic vocabulary and phonics.

Kindy assesments are brutal as well -- Oregon standards, Beaverton Standards, and now this new IRLA.  All give pertinent info but the beginning of the year is busy for teachers trying to get these all done.

Will the new middle school be an MYP school (like Cedar Park)?  WHO KNOWS!  Apparently that designation usually begins as an organic movement from the principal and staff.  Time will tell.

Speaking of that new middle school, when are the boundaries going to be public?  Well, folks, it’s gonna be awhile.  Right now they are beginning to work on the new high school boundaries.  

And the BIGGEST informational coup of the day -- BSD is foregoing open enrollment for ALL its schools next year.  No getting out of your home school now.

Hope to see you at the November Principal’s Chat on Friday, November 20th at 2pm.