Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Bates will answer them on the blog or in video snapshots.
Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. To submit a question to Dr. Bates, send an email to email@example.com.
Question – Dr. Bates, Regarding the Pole Vaulting analogy, how are teachers to help their students transition when there are 38-43 students in their classes?
Response – Thanks for your response and question. What I have been most pleased about is the reality that all across our district there are glowing bright spots. There are teachers in all of our schools all across the district whose students have proficiency rates much higher than might have been expected given class sizes as you’ve described them or a myriad of other factors you didn’t mention. We are making a concerted effort as a district to identify these bright spots and see what can be done to replicate their achievement.
Sticking with the analogy, I’m suggesting we talk with high jump coaches whose kids have won championships and find out what works for them and their kids despite the long lists of challenges they face. As a counselor, you might have opportunity to look at achievement in your school and other schools through your own professional network (I certainly hope you’re talking with counselors in other schools about what’s working). Learn and share!
Thanks for your question.
Question – Will we be using Acuity next year or the SAGE formative assessment piece?
Response – Granite District will not be using the Acuity delivery platform at all this coming year – neither for universal screening assessments nor district quarterly benchmarks. Our district-created quarterly benchmark assessments will be housed as a Granite specific library of assessments on the state SAGE Formative platform. Information and training in support of this change will be provided for both administrators and teachers as the school year begins.
Thanks for the question!
Question – The teachers at my school understand the new requirement and the necessity of having daily objectives posted on our boards so that our students stay focused on their learning. My question for the superintendent is this: Since every elementary teacher in the district is supposed to follow the district curriculum mapping with both Imagine It and Go Math!, and we are supposed to have a content and language objectives posted for both of these areas with grade-level appropriate vocabulary every day, why can’t we have grade-specific teams of educators meet and write/ figure out the objectives for each lesson and then post them on the intranet so that there is consistency in the district and so that the other 3,000 of us can just come each morning and pull them off the web and post them each day? This would prevent inconsistency with the objectives and as well as prevent the majority of us from having to reinvent the wheel each morning, adding 5 or 10 minutes to the beginning of each day that we already don’t have, and spending up to an hour of our valuable planning time each Friday figuring them out and writing them down in our plan books, just so that we can hand copy them onto our limited board space in our classroom at the beginning of each day. (Bold printed 72 font writing on an 11 x 17 piece of paper would be better, don’t you think?)
If this is something that could be considered, I would volunteer to be on this team of educators, and I’m sure many others would volunteer, too, providing we were offered lane change credit for doing it. ;0)
Response – The suggestion that we spare teachers the additional responsibility of creating their individual content objectives and provide them at the district level for all elementary teachers to use is a good one. In fact, they already exist on the district provided curriculum maps in language arts and mathematics; they are noted as “I Can. . . ” statements. Also available are generic language objectives to be adapted to fit the lesson and language needs of the students. Hope this helps!
Question – Now that we have a system in place to motivate teachers, when is there going to be something put in place to motivate the students? I can tell my third graders how important these tests are, but really they have nothing to lose if they don’t do their best. In the past I have had students that get on the computer and just click any answer. They don’t want to do these online tests and rush through them. Last year during my SEP’s I had students that had high Dibels scores, but low Acuity Language Arts scores. As I went over the data with these students and their parents I asked them if they read the stories on the Acuity test. Every single one of these students said that they didn’t take the time to read them. They just guessed. The test did not show what they knew. I think that this performance pay is deeply flawed if my pay raise is based on a group of 9 year-olds that could careless about their test scores. I can teach these kids the required curriculum, but I can’t make them take their time on the any of the tests. They don’t have anything to worry about if they fail. They just move on to the next grade. I’m the one who gets penalized. So I ask my question again, when is there going to be something put in place to motivate the students? Yes, the teachers need to do their part and be highly qualified, but students need to do their part too.
Response – I conclude from the subject line and the first sentence of your message that you, a teacher, finally have in place something to motivate you in your work – a performance pay system. I surely hope you find satisfaction and incentive in something greater than that. You then suggest that the scores your students generate on the language arts benchmark assessments have something to do with that system; this is incorrect. Results on the SAGE test will likely be tied to any future state performance pay plan, but the benchmark assessments are intended to be a tool for YOU, the classroom teacher. While they provide students the opportunity to practice with questions similar to those soon to be found on SAGE, it is our intent that the benchmark scores provide data for you and your grade level team – data which can suggest areas of instruction that require re-teaching, state standards that needn’t be addressed because students are already proficient in them, and indication of teaching that was effective and might be copied by a teacher who was less so in a particular area. As far as motivating students to do well on those benchmark assessments, the best motivator in a student’s academic life is a competent, caring teacher. I am confident that your students would have responded quite differently on the benchmarks had you begun the year with an explanation for the assessments by saying something similar to the following:
“Class, it’s the beginning of a new term, and today we’re going to the computer lab for something called a benchmark assessment in language arts. Let me tell you what you’ll see – about 25 questions that cover all the material I’m supposed to teach you this coming term. Now, I want you to help me do my job; I need you to give me some guidance so I earn my paycheck these next few months. Please try really hard to answer as many questions as you can. Even though we haven’t even studied any of that material yet, you’ll all be able to answer some of the questions anyway, and I don’t want to bore you by teaching things you already know. And guess what! At the end of the term we’ll go back to the lab and take another assessment on the same material that I’ve taught all term. I’ll want you to try really hard then, too; if you do, you’ll find out how much you really learned over these next nine weeks when we compare the scores for today to those a couple of months later. Also, just in case there’s something I taught that you still don’t understand on that second assessment, I’ll know what I need to re-teach a little differently to some of you so I guarantee you’re ALL ready for fourth grade next year. ”
I conclude with your final question: “When is there going to be something put in place to motivate the students?” My response: “Tomorrow morning. Motivation has been and continues to be something managed by the classroom teacher.” In point of fact, this would be a great PLC discussion – since everyone on your team or department is teaching the same neighborhood of kids, what seems to be working for colleagues that you might adopt?
Welcome to the latest snapshot. If you have a question for the superintendent, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question – I am interested in earning a reading endorsement within the next two years. When considering my options, I was disappointed to learn Granite District no longer offers certain endorsement programs for teachers. Are the Granite endorsement options a thing of the past, or will there be other opportunities in the near future? I realize I can still obtain endorsements through other university programs, however meeting full-tuition costs would be difficult for me right now.
Response – We do not have plans to offer reading endorsement classes through Granite District in the near future. USU does offer an on-line reading endorsement program. The link for information on that program is https://teal.usu.edu/htm/endorsements/online-reading-endorsement/. The district does provide half tuition up to $450 per completed class for current reading specialists, but does not provide reimbursement outside of that program. We caution our reading specialists that this funding is allocated on a year to year basis. It is budgeted for this school year. It may or may not continue based on budget issues.
Thanks for your question and to the Teaching and Learning Department for their assistance in responding.
Question – Although having all SEPs in the same week may seem like a good idea in theory, for those of us who work for the Granite AND have children in high school and junior high, it was not so great. Because I had to attend my high schooler’s SEP Conferences on Monday and my junior high-schooler’s SEP Conferences on Tuesday, I was not only tired when it came time to visit with my speech students and their parents, I was also not as prepared as I would like. Last year was much better when the SEP Conferences were divided between two weeks. I know that I wasn’t the only teacher with this problem, even in my own school. Please reconsider keeping them separate when making the schedule for next year.
Response – GEA, in response to overwhelming requests from teachers asked that the compensatory day be the same week as P/T conferences. If we split that day up by having different weeks for Elementary conferences we would create 4 non-aligned days (days when elementary is in session and secondary is not in session and visa versa ) our community surveys indicate, parents do not like the non-aligned days. Also, on days when elementary is not in session, but the secondary schools are in session, attendance at the secondary level drops substantially so that secondary students can be home to provide care for elementary students when parents are both working. We recognize this can be a challenge for some of our patrons. The calendering committee (made up of parents and employees) will continue to review this issue as calendars are determined for future years.
Thanks to the School Leadership and Improvement Services Department for their assistance in responding to this question.
Due to the unprecedented positive response, we are posting this dress standards video for your additional review. We have been pleasantly surprised with the positive feedback that we have received from all constituency groups, particularly our teachers. It has been overwhelming. We have had teachers call and ask us to recognize the GEA for having the courage to promote professional dress. We thank everyone for helping us “raise the bar,” in Granite School District.