Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. To submit a question, send an email to email@example.com
Question – With the switch of end of year assessment coming, I would like to know what Granite School District and other Utah School Districts are doing regarding keyboarding and basic computer skills. It seems like SAGE is going to not only test students’ academic achievement, but will also assess their ability to use technology (in this case, a computer) efficiently and effectively. I know that part of our core standards includes keyboarding and computer skills, but it seems to me we need access to more resources in order to produce technological competent students. Is Granite School District looking to acquire a keyboarding/basic computer skills specialist who can teach these skills? Will it be the responsibility of the school’s STS? Teachers? It seems somewhat unfair to me that our students should be tested via technological devices without appropriate training, and that teachers’ pay should be partially determined by these results. What are we really assessing?
Response – It is true that the new SAGE assessment requires technology skills beyond those previously required by CRT administration – drag and drop, select text, work with graphs, for example. We have encouraged our teachers to introduce their students to the SAGE practice tests and familiarize them with the skills required of the new assessment; students can practice at home, and parents can become familiar with the new assessments as well. In fact, most students are far more technology savvy than are the adults in our system, and it is incumbent on all of us to provide repeated opportunities to learn and demonstrate learning through the use of appropriate technology, even when we lack expertise. STSs do have responsibility for some instruction, but that is instruction and support for teachers in better integrating technology into routine classroom instruction. Lastly, teacher pay is NOT currently impacted by SAGE results, although we expect it will be in the future. The legislature has pushed back this requirement for merit pay again this last legislative session.
Question – I went to parent teacher conferences last night at the high school. I was displeased to find out that concurrent enrollment options in math were being eliminated in favor of common core math standards. With six children in the district planning college careers, I find this very disturbing. Concurrent enrollment is that head start into college at a very reasonable cost. I’m having a hard time seeing the logic in taking that away. Please help me understand why we would eliminate a college credit option in favor of something inferior.
Response – There appears to be a miscommunication between what is now being offered and how this applies to concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement courses in the math curriculum. As part of the changes our high schools have seen, the intent has always been to grow, not eliminate concurrent enrollment options. However, given your obvious interest in a head start on college, please know that higher education has evaluated our course offerings and has determined that Secondary Math III is a prerequisite for the regents scholarship. The regent’s scholarship, is a year’s tuition, renewable for a second year. Students who think skipping Secondary Math III and taking Math 1050/60 puts them somehow money ahead simply haven’t done the math (pun intended). By all means, take concurrent math courses – but after Secondary Math III!
To the concern with new math standards, in the state of Utah, each university and college is able to track math students from each of their respective high schools. The data collected from 2011, which reflected students who’d had the old math standards, indicates that upwards of 40-56% of our high school students (depending on which high school) were needing to take remedial level math courses – and then a significant percentage failing those. The old standards clearly were not preparing kids for college math. The changes provide a more comprehensive math curriculum that better prepares our students. This new pattern still provides ample opportunity for concurrent enrollment and AP courses at the 11th and 12th grade level and even earlier for gifted students. This data driven approach to our course patterns will better prepare our students for college and for higher academic success.
Thanks to the teaching and learning division for their assistance in responding to this question.
Question – I have been teaching for starting my 7th year in granite district. I spent two years in preschool and the last going on my fifth in the OEK kinder program. While I was teaching preK they would focus our trainings on purposeful teaching that we are suppose to look at what we need to teach and find the best most fun way to teach it. I think of this often, I sometimes see projects or things done in school and think what is the purpose behind it. I have one child in preK and 3 adopted teenagers who all attend granite schools and sometimes I see projects that take two days and I cannot find one purpose in it, other then it is fun. I get frustrated, I am a kindergarten teacher who makes sure I do purposeful things. I think if my child struggles in art I would put him in a art class, I would not look to the school to provide this. I do realize we introduce a lot of things to students and believe this is good, but I get frustrated when I see projects that do not have a purpose and take soooo much time away from academics. Being in kindergarten it is very easy to find cutesy things but they usually do not have a purpose. I think this is a fluff we can cut out. Thank you for listening to my complaint and I hope it is of some use.
Response – Thank you for your thoughts. You’re right on point. Kindergarten lays the foundation for high school graduation which is the reason our public school system exists. Thus, beginning with kindergarten (and in pre-K as well), any and all activities should have a pedagogical objective straight from the core. It should just about go without saying that activities that are meaningful, relevant and engaging (aka “fun”) will be learned and retained. To that end we’ll assume your use of the word “purposeful” means focused on student proficiency in the Utah Core Standards which have been prescribed for all grade levels, including kindergarten, and in all content areas, including arts. With the 13-14 school year, the state will start holding schools accountable with the UCAS system which, we discovered from the dry run last year, is really a measure of fidelity to the state core (NOT fidelity to a particular tool). We highly encourage teachers to use curriculum maps, pacing guides and, where available, screener and benchmark tools for purposes of planning, teaching and assessing learning. As a practical matter, being able to demonstrate student growth along the lines of the core curriculum (all subjects) is becoming a matter of job security – thanks to SB 64. The district is working as quickly as possible to develop helps and tools teachers can use to these ends.
Great question from a teacher regarding the expanding of P.E., music and art education in the vision for quality education in Granite School District. Have a question? Submit it here! Have a great day.
Welcome to the latest superintendent snapshot addressing some feedback we have received concerning YPP. Enjoy!
Welcome to the latest snapshot video about Christmas in our schools. Anyone can submit a question. Please continue to email your questions here.