Monday, September 11, 2017

What To Expect in 2017-18 for PBL Work

What a great start to the 2017-18 School Year!  Before I dig into what you can expect for Proficiency Based Learning (PBL) work in the area of assessments, grading and reporting this year, I just have to share some awesome pictures from our first few days of school (I just couldn't help myself).

   

  

  

What a great start to the school year!  Just had to share!  Now on to some PBL information. . .

The Gorham Schools has been working to create a Proficiency Based Learning (PBL) system within our schools because we believe that student engagement and achievement improve when the components of a PBL system are fully implemented in all grades and content areas.  Those components are:

·      Clear Learning Targets
·      Aligned Instruction and Assessment
·      Timeline Interventions
·      Aligned Grading and Reporting Practices

For several years now, we have focused our work on the creation of clear learning targets, aligning instruction and assessment to those learning targets across all grades, and on creating solid structures and practices for interventions that allow our students to receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs. 

In these areas we have made great progress!  We now have a comprehensive system of clear learning targets K-12 which you can view by going to our website (www.gorhamschools.org) and clicking on “About Us” and then clicking on “Proficiency Based Learning System”.  Once there, click on “Gorham Curriculum Overview”.  On this page you can find our 2017-18 PBL Handbook which is a comprehensive guide to any parent that wants to learn more about our PBL system.  Also on this page you can find our “2017-18 Progress Report” which gives parents access to view all of our Graduation Standards, Performance Indicators and Scoring Guides for Grades K-12 across all content areas.  Our teachers have worked hard over the past few years to develop these clear standards and to align their instruction and assessment practices with these standards!

In the area of interventions, we have also made some significant improvements, albeit there is more work to do!  At the K-5 level we have strengthened our Response to Intervention (RTI) processes to include social/emotional learning for our students as well as the traditional academic supports.  In grades 6-8 we continue to refine and strengthen our RTI processes and utilize the EICAL block to provide both intervention and enrichment services for students.  In grades 9-12 we have completely changed our bell schedule and worked to create a daily intervention/enrichment period for our students now fondly known as “Auxilium”.  Across K-12 we have changed our benchmarking assessments from NWEA testing to STAR 360 testing to allow for more detailed interventions based upon students performance to be used and we continue to offer strong supports for students in our learning labs and learning extension programs through our already strong Gifted and Talented Program.

The area that we are focused on for this year is assessment and on the alignment of our grading and reporting practices to our PBL system.  This is likely the most difficult work yet because this will require making changes to the way we communicate student learning to students, their families, and to the community as a whole.  Here in Gorham we are taking a very measured and calculated approach to these changes.  Teachers, students, and parents have been involved in helping to plan this approach.  This year, the Gorham School Department is entering the first year of a four year “phase in” plan to align our grading and reporting practices to our PBL system.  Here’s an overview of that plan:

2017-18

Student learning in grades K-6 will be reported out utilizing a 1-4 grading scale via our standards based grading and reporting software, currently known as Jumprope (see scale below).

Existing Jumprope pilots in 7th and 8th grade science will remain in place and student scores will be reported out via Jumprope on the 1-4 scale.    Allied Arts grades for students in grades 6-8 will also utilize the 1-4 scale and be reported out via our standards based grading and reporting software.

All other learning scores for students in grades 7-12 will be reported out using the “blended scale” (see scale below) in a similar manner as they have always been reported out via Infinite Campus.

2018-19

Student learning in grades K-7 will be reported out utilizing the 1-4 scale.  Existing Jumprope pilots in 8th grade science will remain in place and student scores will be reported out via the 1-4 scale.  Allied Arts grades for students in grades 6-8 will also utilize the 1-4 scale and be reported out via our standards based grading and reporting system.

All other learning scores for students in grades 8-12 will be reported out using the “blended scale” in a similar manner as they have always been reported out.

2019-20

Student learning in grades K-8 will be reported out utilizing the 1-4 scale across all content areas.

All other learning scores for students in grades 9-12 will be reported out using the “blended scale” in a similar manner as they have always been reported out.

2020-21

Student learning in grades K-12 will be reported out utilizing the 1-4 scale across all content areas.

Throughout this transition, we will continue to calculate honor roll, GPA, class rank, extra and co-curricular eligibility, etc.

As we go through this school year we will be spending a great deal of time working with students and parents in grades K-6 helping you to understand how to read these new reports.  We will be spending time during Parent/Teacher Conferences this fall on familiarizing parents with these new reports and we have a parent informational meeting scheduled for the night of November 13, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at Village Elementary School.  Additionally, we will have online materials prepared for parents to reference using our district's website. (www.gorhamschools.org).  

With the changes we have planned over the next four years, our goal is to ensure that our grading and reporting system gives students, parents and other stakeholders clear information about where students are in their learning so that we can all continue to work together to ensure each student’s continued growth and learning success!  Ultimately we want ALL our students to graduate "College and Career Ready" and to be “Prepared and Inspired” to take on the complex challenges facing our current and future world!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly at heather.perry@gorhamschools.org.

Thank you!

1-4 Grading Scale

Score
Description
Proficiency Description

4
Distinguished
The student consistently exceeds the proficiency requirements for the course level.  Performance indicators show that the student grasps, applies, generalizes, and extends key concepts, processes, and skills independently.
3.5
Exceeding Proficiency
The student’s body of work falls consistently between a “3” and a “4” for proficiency requirements for the course level.  

3
Proficient
The student consistently meets the proficiency requirements for the course level.  Performance indicators show that the student, with limited errors, grasps key concepts, processes, and skills for the course level and understands and applies them effectively.
2.5
Approaching Proficiency
The student’s body of work falls consistently between a “2” and a “3” for proficiency requirements for the course level.

2
Developing
The student is progressing toward meeting the proficiency requirements for the course level.  Performance indicators show that the student is beginning to grasp key concepts, processes and skills for the course level, but demonstrates inconsistent understanding and application of concepts

1
Emerging
The student is making some progress toward meeting the competency requirements.  Performance Indicators show that the student is not demonstrating understanding of course-level key concepts, processes and skills and requires additional time and support.
IE
Insufficient Evidence
The student did not turn in enough work to determine his/her level of proficiency.

Blended Grading Scale

Proficiency Score
A,B,C Score
100-Pt. Score
Proficiency Description
4
A
100
Distinguished - The student consistently exceeds the proficiency requirements for the course level.  Performance indicators show that the student grasps, applies, generalizes, and extends key concepts, processes, and skills independently.
3.75
A
96.7
3.5
A
93.3
3.25
B
90
Proficient - The student consistently meets the proficiency requirements for the course level.  Performance indicators show that the student, with limited errors, grasps key concepts, processes, and skills for the course/grade level and understands and applies them.
3
B
86.7
2.75
C
83.3
2.5
C
80
Developing - The student is progressing toward the proficiency requirements for the course/grade level.  Performance indicators show that the student is beginning to grasp key concepts, processes, and skills for the course/grade level, but demonstrates inconsistent understanding and application of concepts.
2.25
C
76.7
2
D
73.3
1.75
D
70
Emerging - The student is making some progress toward meeting the competency requirements.  Performance indicators show that the student is not demonstrating understanding of course-level concepts, processes and skills and requires additional time and support.
1.5
D
66.7
1.25
F
63.3
1
F
60
IE
Insufficient Evidence
The student did not turn in enough work to determine his/her level of proficiency.
* Note:  Scores lower than a 60 will not be given to students using this grading scale.



Monday, August 14, 2017

2017-18 Opening Parent Letter

August 14, 2017

Dear Parents/Guardians,

It is with great anticipation and excitement that I welcome you back for another incredible school year here within the Gorham Schools!  The first day of school for students in grades K,6, and 9 will be Monday, August 28, 2017.  The first day of school for all other students will be on Tuesday, August 29, 2017. 

Bus routes have recently been published in the Gorham Times.  You may also view them by going to the Gorham Schools website (www.gorhamschools.org) then clicking on “District Departments” and then on “Transportation”.  Once there, click on bus routes for either Elementary or GMS/GHS.  I would like to kindly request PATIENCE and UNDERSTANDING for the first few weeks of school as we iron out the details of our bus routes for another school year.  Also, a reminder to parents who will be having their children transported to area Day Cares, please be sure to go onto the website to complete the “Day Care Transportation Request Form” also found on the transportation page of our website.  If you, or a neighbor you may know, has not yet enrolled students within the Gorham Schools, I encourage folks to please contact your school’s office immediately.  You can find school contact information on the district’s webpage.
If you have specific questions about bus routes, please contact Judy at the Transportation Office (893-2547).

Our schools are excited to welcome you and your children to another tremendous school year here in Gorham!  There are lots of outstanding things happening at our schools so be sure to check out those school websites, keep an eye on your mail and email, and watch for flyers and other materials that will be sent home with your students the first few days of school to let you know about many of these exciting planned events!  You can also check out my blog, which I update monthly to help parents stay informed about the various things going on in our schools.  We are also active on social media, so you can check us out on Facebook or Twitter – all of which are linked from our webpages.

Our schools are also eager to welcome you as parent Partners In Education (PIE).  Each of our three elementary schools has a PIE group who work tirelessly to help our schools and the children we serve (THANK YOU). You also may not realize it, but Gorham Middle School and Gorham High School both have parent groups that would love to see more participation. Did you know that there is a direct correlation between the level of parent involvement in your child’s education and the academic achievement of your child?  As parent involvement increases, student achievement also increases!  We want you to be involved and there are lots of ways (both little and big) to be involved, so don’t be bashful!  If you are interested in being a member of a PIE group in any of our schools, please reach out to your school’s teacher or principal via email or phone and let them know.  They can give you all the details on when meetings occur and how you can get involved!

As we get ready to open a new school year, I also want to draw your attention to the importance of school attendance.  As you know, our schools have focused on improving attendance over the past few years and we continue to work hard to make sure our students attend school regularly, but we need your help! 

Did you know that absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance throughout the school year?  Half the students who miss 2-4 days in September go on to miss nearly a month of school during the year!  Did you know poor attendance can influence whether children read proficiently by the end of third grade?  Did you know that by 6th grade, chronic absence becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school?  Finally, did you know that research shows missing 10 percent of the school year (or about 18 days in most school districts which defines chronic absenteeism) negatively affects a student’s academic performance?  That’s just two days per month!

Encouraging regular school attendance is one of the most powerful ways you can prepare your child for success – both in school and in life.  When you help us make school attendance a priority, you help your child get better grades, develop healthy life habits, and have a better chance of graduating from high school ready to meet all that life’s challenges may have in store for them successfully!

I also want to remind all parents/guardians of our incredible volunteer program! The Gorham Schools are well known for our robust volunteer programs where parents and community members are encouraged to actively participate in the educational processes of our schools in various ways.  Last year we had well over 2,000 hours donated to our schools by our awesome volunteers!  Thank you! In order to continue to keep this program vibrant and strong, WE NEED YOU!  To volunteer in the Gorham Schools, you need to first register.  This registration process is required for both short and longer-term commitments.  All of our forms can be found on the district website.  Just go to www.gorhamschools.org, click on the “Human Resources” tab and click on “Volunteer Program” and you are there!  You may also inquire at your school’s Principal’s office for more information.

In closing, the Gorham School’s staff continue to work hard to make our schools a place where your child wants to come each and every day to challenge themselves, to socialize, and to achieve all that they can achieve as learners!  Our teachers and support staff are excited about the work they do every day with your children to help them learn and grow!  Our schools are lucky to have this talented staff and we are also lucky to have a strong community and our supportive parents.  Together, we all care deeply about the success of our children – and our schools care deeply about our community and its success as well!  Our students understand what a community truly is, because our community models it for them every day!  Our students strive to live our Code of Conduct by demonstrating respect, honesty, courage, compassion, and responsibility because our parents and community as a whole actually lives it!  I am proud to be your Superintendent of Schools and will work tirelessly to make sure this strong spirit continues to thrive in Gorham!  We are all so very proud to be GORHAM RAMS!  

I look forward to another great year!  Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns.  My email is heather.perry@gorhamschools.org and my office phone number is 222-1012.  See you all soon!  GO RAMS!

Sincerely,


Heather J. Perry,

Superintendent of Schools