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