Thursday, December 5, 2013

WPR Story On the Somali Population's Experience in Barron

I wanted to bring to your attention that recently WPR did a story on the "West Side" regarding the Somali population in Barron.  Our own Kim Frandsen (HS ESL Teacher) was involved in the show as well...  It is an excellent opportunity to hear part of the Somali families' immigrant experience and their move to our county, the city of Barron and the Barron Area School District.



Please feel free to contact me at any time.

Craig Broeren
District Admninistrator

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fee Discussion

You may have read the News Shield's most recent article regarding the existence and collection of fees in our district, particularly at the high school level.  It is important to note that we will have to develop a well thought out plan to determine the feasibility of decreasing or doing away with fees in general.  As was stated, the district generates roughly $100,000.00 in revenue for fees ranging from gate receipts for athletic events to various student fees.  Because of this, if we do away with the various fees, we will have to determine a way to either replace that lost revenue or make due without it; neither of which are easy tasks.  We intend to continue discussions regarding this topic and welcome any input parents or community members may have.

Please feel free to post a comment to this blog, email me at: broerenc@barron.k12.wi.us, or call me at: 537-5612 ext. 402 any time!

Thanks,

Craig Broeren
District Administrator

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Plan to Address Student Achievement

As was posted earlier in the year, the Barron Area School District saw "State report card" scores that were lower than State average in some of our schools.  As was also shared previously, the district will focus on reading achievement in particular during this year and into the future due to the fact that reading achievement is foundational to success in many other academic areas.  With that said, I wanted to provide an update regarding our plans for this year and beyond to begin to address these concerns.

To begin, the first phase of our plan is to critically examine teacher practice in the classroom or in what we call large group instruction; this is not to say that we have teachers that are not doing what they are supposed to be doing rather, we are examining our practices to determine the amount of time we spend on reading and language arts instruction, identifying "best practices" to employ to boost reading achievement, are looking deeply into district level assessment data to determine specific areas of need for groups of students and individuals, and we are taking steps to ensure our reading and language arts curriculum are aligned with the Common Core State Standards which we will be evaluated on in the future.  In addition to the above, we have also began to examine our approach to providing interventions for students (both individually and in groups) and have developed a comprehensive system to identify issues or areas of concern, engage in problem solving teams to further identify and address the concerns, and the utilization of data to inform the decisions we make about what types of interventions we should use, the length of time we do these interventions, and best environment to accomplish these goals.  We have also discussed and intend to employ an approach to reading instruction that is across content areas and focuses on reading instruction at all levels in addition to content area instruction such as science or math.

The primary difference between the approach outlined above and what we have done in the past, is in the critical examination of classroom practices coupled with the utilization of data to inform our instruction and the delivery of targeted, research based interventions designed to address specific skill deficits.  In addition, we have communicated the expectation that we are all teachers of reading regardless of our content area specialty.  We also intend to provide staff training and support in these areas to help ensure success.

We understand that this is a complex undertaking that will require a lot of time and effort to accomplish; but we also know that we should see improvements over time if we are proceeding correctly.

On a side note- I have to admit that my personal philosophy regarding education is clearly NOT to "teach to the test" nor am I advocating for such a move; however, we do have data available to help us make informed choices about how to address skill deficits in a targeted manner which will boost achievement regardless of what test a student takes or whether or not they are tested at all.  The overarching goal of education in general is to challenge students to reach their fullest potential- not to get the best score on a test.  

Please contact me at any time with questions.

Sincerely,

Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
broerenc@barron.k12.wi.us
715-537-5612 ext. 402

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Community Meetings Planned

I have conducted meetings to gather information from our various buildings and am now proceeding with conducting meetings in the communities of Barron, Ridgeland, and Almena.  The purpose of these meetings will be to share some of the things currently going on district-wide and to answer any questions parents or community members may have.  These will be very informal meetings and will be comprised mainly of discussion prompted by those in attendance.  If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to come to ANY of these meetings.  They will be as follows:

Barron- Tuesday, November 12th at 7:30pm in the HS Commons
Ridgeland- Thursday, November 14th at 7:30pm at Ridgeland-Dallas Elementary Cafeteria
Almena- Monday, November 18th at 8:00pm at Almena Elementary following the regular board meeting 

As always, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,
Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
715-537-5612 ext. 402

Bomb Threat Update

As you likely know, our high school experienced a bomb threat and subsequent evacuation a few weeks ago; although it was a difficult situation, the staff and students did an extraordinary job following the evacuation procedures which resulted in a calm, organized environment.  During the evacuation, law enforcement made us aware of (what turned out to be) an unrelated incident that caused us to employ precautionary lock-downs at our facilities in the city of Barron including the students at the evacuation site.  It was quickly determined by law enforcement that the incident in question had nothing to do with the bomb threat, but since we did not know at the time, we took additional precautions until this became clear.   Even though it was a difficult situation, we had the opportunity to reflect on it and learn some things as a result.  Some complications arose from parents arriving at the evacuation site to pick up their students or to drop off lunch for them.  As a parent myself, I completely understand the motivation to come to the evacuation site to ensure your child(ren) are safe (and fed) but if a situation arises where real danger is a possibility, parents would put themselves and the students at risk by coming to the school or evacuation site.  Parents can feel free to contact the district office for information and to determine whether or not all children are safe at any time as the district office will be receiving consistent updates from the site affected.  In addition, there are circumstances when it may not be possible to release students immediately to their parents or guardians due to safety, ongoing investigations, etc.  With that said, we feel that we are here to serve our students, parents, and community members and will do our best to meet your expectations whenever possible.  We appreciate your patience and understanding particularly during stressful occasions such as a bomb threat.

The investigation to find the individual responsible for the threat is ongoing; we have some possible leads based upon video evidence.  We are also working in conjunction with the Barron Police Department on conducting hand-writing analyses as more possible evidence.

Lastly, on behalf of the Barron Area School District, I would like to thank the Barron Police Department, the Barron Fire Department, and the Barron County Sherriff’s Department for their assistance with the evacuation and search of our high school facility.  In addition, I would like to thank our local Kwik Trip for donating bottled water and bananas to the high school students during the evacuation as well.

As always, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,

Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
715-537-5612 ext. 402

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Common Core State Standards

You may have heard some discussions around our State regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) recently; specifically, these discussions have called into question whether or not they are rigorous enough among other things.

I wanted to be certain that you had an opportunity to make these determinations as thoughtful, informed individuals.  Please go to www.corestandards.org to see for yourself.


Some points for you  to consider- 

1) The CCSS are standards designed to indicate what students should be able to demonstrate, NOT curricula.  The curricula is still determined by the local districts. 

2) The CCSS are adopted for English Language Arts (ELA) and Math ONLY.  Currently, there are no CCSS for Social Studies and there are "Next Generation Science Standards" that have been developed, but we are not assessed on those at this time, nor has it been indicated that we will be assessed on those in the future.  

Lastly, I simply want to mention that the above information is not due to the fact that I feel a huge passion for the CCSS but rather out of necessity.  That is, we will be held accountable to some form of measure in the State as a result of our ESEA (No Child Left Behind) waiver and the development of our school report cards among other things.  Districts State-wide have put in countless hours and spent millions of dollars to begin to implement these standards to ensure that we are adequately positioned for the upcoming "next generation assessment" in 2014-2015.  Now is not the time to again move the target for schools across the State.

Please contact me with questions.  

Craig G. Broeren
715-537-5612 ext. 402
broerenc@barron.k12.wi.us

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

School and District Accountability Report Cards

The State has issued our school and district report cards today.  Unfortunately, the results are less than satisfactory as our district overall received a score that is considered to "meet few expectations".  In addition, we had one building (our HS) with a similar rating.  This is due to a number of factors and I want to ensure that our community has access to all the relevant information.

To begin, schools and districts are rated on the following:

  • Student Achievement – performance on the WKCE and WAA-SwD in reading and mathematics
  • Student Growth – improvement over time on the WKCE in reading and mathematics
  • Closing Gaps – progress of student subgroups in closing gaps in reading and mathematics performance and/or graduation rates
  • On-track and Postsecondary Readiness – performance on key indicators of readiness for graduation and postsecondary pursuits, whether college or career

And

  • Test Participation Rate has a goal of 95 percent test participation for all students and each subgroup. Test participation rates for both the WKCE and WAA-SwD are included. Rates that are below 95 percent but at least 85 percent receive a five-point deduction. Rates below 85 percent receive a 10-point deduction.
  • Absenteeism Rate has a goal of 13 percent or less. Rates of attendance are measured as the number of days that a student attended school, divided by the number of possible days they could have attended during the school year. Students are expected to attend school for at least 84.1% of their possible number of days. If more than 13% of the school’s or district's student population fails to meet this expectation, the school or district receives a five point deduction from their overall index score. Absenteeism is different than attendance (measured in the On-Track and Postsecondary Readiness Priority Area) because it measures a percent of students who are absent from school a certain amount of time, not how often students attend school.
  • Dropout Rate has a goal of six percent or less. Dropout rate is the number of students who dropped out during the school term divided by the total expected to complete the school term in that school or district. Districts or schools not meeting this goal will have five points deducted from their overall score.

What happened for the district overall is two fold- 1) we had issues with the number of students who took the State tests (less than 95% overall) which caused the district to receive a 5 point deduction.  2) We had some difficulties in reading and math achievement nearly district wide.  In most other areas (growth, closing gaps, etc.) we did fine with only the HS receiving a relatively low score in closing gaps in addition to the issues in achievement referenced above.  

Based on this data, the district intends to focus on improvement in the short term and the long term.  In the short term, we will strive to ensure that 100% of our students participate in the State level assessment which should be fairly easy to accomplish with the appropriate information and support provided to our students and parents.  In the long term, we intend to focus on reading achievement this year and next, through multiple means including examining and evaluating data, professional development for staff, and by changing some of our current practices.  We will then continue this type of focus in Math as soon as reasonable feasible.

Building Principals will be meeting with their staff to discuss this information and to lay out plans to address these areas of concern in the coming days.  In addition, this will be a topic of discussion at our administrative team meeting, at our curriculum committee meeting, and at our next regular board meeting.  We will address these issues and take steps to ensure that we improve over time.

With that said, I don't want this to be perceived as a message of what we have done wrong, nor do I want this to be perceived as someone's responsibility.  This information is intended to provide us with a starting point to work from and provides the foundation for our improvement initiatives.  I would also say that performing better on a test is NOT the sole purpose of our existence and that there are many other things that we do as an organization to help our students be successful that are not measured by this test or any other.  But, failure to address these concerns would certainly be cause for even greater concern.

Lastly, I would like to be very clear on one point in particular- this data is NOT a result of a specific group or groups of students in our district and we have the data to illustrate that to you.  This information will also be shared throughout the district over the coming weeks.  As you will learn, the issues identified here, transcend any specific labels or categories and  are indicative of some changes that need to take place district-wide, across curricula, and throughout our entire organization.

To access the school report cards, please go to:  


Please contact me with questions.

Sincerely, 

Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
715-537-5612 ext. 402
broerenc@barron.k12.wi.us

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Welcome!

The purpose of this blog will be to communicate with the communities that comprise the Barron Area School District.  In addition, please feel free to utilize this blog as a vehicle to ask questions relevant to the education of the students of the district.  Various updates will be posted throughout the year.

Please feel free to contact me at any time by posting a comment on this blog, calling, or by sending an email.

Thanks,

Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
broerenc@barron.k12.wi.us
715-537-5612 ext. 402