Well – September certainly flew by and we’ve already had our October dose of storm related fear! So glad that the hurricane decided to spare our coast and head out to sea. Even so, shore towns saw their share of erosion from the nor’easter that everyone forgot about! I will admit to a certain amount of panic as just a week prior I had received the final CO for my parent’s home!
Reviewing last year’s blog posts will remind you that the high school devoted much energy to the understanding, implementation and use of formative assessment in the classroom. This is an area well substantiated by research and one that is directly tied to student learning. Our overall plan for the improvement of all types of assessment will continue this year with a review of formative assessment techniques accompanied by a renewed emphasis on using the data collected to drive instruction in the moment and in the future. The information we acquire about what students are learning must be directly and immediately applied to what and how we are teaching if it is to have any positive effect. Mr. Joe Ginotti from the University of Pennsylvania will be on hand for at least 6 sessions throughout the year. He will be working in small groups and also individually with teachers in the classroom. Having this outside, objective observer providing non-evaluative feedback to staff is invaluable. In addition, the supervisory and administrative staff will be directing comments specifically focused on assessment and provide additional strategies to teachers. The instructional coaches have many iLearn sessions already underway to expand teacher toolboxes with a variety of new and innovative techniques.
In addition to reviewing techniques surrounding formative assessment, we will be spending time on the creation of strong, informative, performance based assessments. This will include the enhanced development of benchmark assessments collaboratively in like content areas. The creation of this type of assessment needs to go beyond the old macaroni Parthenon we all put together in fifth grade (yes, I actually did that!) to be a true application of learned skills and knowledge – not an easy task. It is our desire that this deliberate pace to the improvement of how we assess our students and what we do with that information will create a culture surrounding assessments that includes them as a tool for learning that goes beyond a grade on a report card!
Informal gathering of information regarding the modified block times has elicited mostly positive comments. We continue to offer staff in house professional development on the great activities that can take place during a 70 minute period. We will continue to assess this schedule as we move throughout the school year.
PARCC updates include the reduction of testing windows from two to one – which is GREAT news. The actual test times per unit however have increased to approximately 110 minutes each. This will pose some scheduling headaches for sure but it is our strong desire to create a testing situation that students and parents feel comfortable participating in. We will be receiving score results in the near future and I am interested to see how these will be interpreted and utilized given the substantial number of opt-outs not only in RHS but across the state. Please stay tuned as we are planning to host informational sessions for parents once we get specifics on when the results will be released.
Spirit week is quickly approaching – please encourage your student to participate. This is always a great week at RHS and our school community historically raises significant funds for both local and state wide charities.