3-22-13 Field Memo

Commissioner’s Weekly Field Memo
Friday, March 22, 2013
 

Notes from Commissioner Gist


1.      Commissioner discusses NECAPs, graduation requirements with media, public 
 
2.      Rhode Islanders honored as Champions for Children
 
3.      Cranston Schools recognized for supporting employees in the military 

 

From the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE)

Meetings and events:


4.      RIDE invites educators to tour Oliver Hazard Perry sailing vessel
 
5.      Congressman Langevin, RIDE sponsor event on multiple pathways to graduation
 

Data and reports:


6.      Infoworks adds new reports, features 
 
7.      RIDE launches new application for submitting, collecting personnel data
 

Educator Recognition: 

8.      State Teacher of the Year applications due April 8

9.      RIDE seeking nominations for 2013-14 District Teacher of the Year
 
10.  RIDE seeking nominations for distinguished educators – Action Item 
 

Educator Evaluations:


11.  Study shows teachers using high-quality Student Learning Objectives improve students’ academic achievement
 

Assessments:


12.  RIDE launches Interim Assessment Test Construction Tool and schedules training webinar
 

 

Action Item Calendar

 
Today (March 22): Evaluation ISP forms due 
May 3: Distinguished Educator nominations due (see below)
 

Notes from Commissioner Gist


1.  Commissioner discusses NECAPs, graduation requirements with media, public 


As  the public discussion continues across Rhode Island on the use of NECAP assessments as one of our graduation requirements continues, I receive many inquiries from students, families, and the media regarding my views on this important matter. I was part of the panel discussion this week on the RI-PBS Lively Experiment, scheduled for broadcast on Sunday (March 24). As this issue touches all of us in the education field, and all of our students and their families as well, I want to give you a brief summary of the main points I have been emphasizing during my media appearances and in my communications with members of our communities: 
 
We know that too many of our graduates are not ready for success beyond high school – they have  not met our basic standards, particularly in mathematics. The NECAP assessment is one of the ways we measure student achievement.
 
The NECAP is designed to measure whether students have met the standards, that is: attained the knowledge and skills that we expect at each grade level. Contrary to recent assertions, the NECAP does not guarantee that a certain percentage of students will fall below the expectation. The number or percentage of students at any scoring level is not predetermined – they can all be proficient. It is designed to measure what students know and are able to do. The NECAP is a valid measure at the individual student level. For years, we have used the NECAP results to guide instruction and to report to parents on the progress their children are making. 
 
The high-school students who scored “substantially below proficient” on the 2012 NECAP will retake the test in their senior year – twice, if necessary. If they improve, they will meet this graduation requirement – regardless of their scoring level. Students can also meet this requirement by attaining a passing score on other approved assessments, including, for example, the Accuplacer, SAT, or ACCESS for ELLs. Students with disabilities receive the same accommodations during the NECAP exams as they receive throughout their schooling: extra time, portions read aloud, etc. In some instances, English learners may take the NECAP in their native language. 
 
Knowledge and skill in mathematics is essential for success in the challenging careers in many of the growing fields in the Rhode Island economy, such as health care and information technology. Even for those planning to enter other professions, a basic skill level in mathematics is essential for success in college and careers. 
 
We know that 75 percent of our recent graduates entering CCRI need remedial classes before they start earning college credits. Research has shown that most students who are bogged down in remedial courses never graduate and those who do often take four, five, even six years to earn an associate’s degree, according to Deborah Grossman-Garber, Associate Commissioner of Higher Education. As Donald J. Farish, President of Roger Williams University, has written (Letter to the Editor, Journal, 3-21-13): 
 

Poor math skills lead to placement in remedial courses (i.e., pre-college level math). Placement in remedial courses is highly correlated with not finishing college. Bottom line: For students who are college-bound, failing to become proficient with the high-school math curriculum is a prelude to a very short college career. 

Without casting blame, we all understand that too many of our students approach their senior year without adequate knowledge and skills in mathematics.  We can no longer turn our back on these students.  For too many years, we have graduated students who were not ready for success beyond high school. 
 
This year’s assessment results have spurred educators, families, and students across Rhode Island to take mathematics seriously and to ramp up mathematics instruction dramatically. I commend them for taking this matter seriously. We are confident that, with a year of good instruction and additional support, all students can improve their performance, develop some level of knowledge and skills in mathematics, and earn a diploma.
 

2.  Rhode Islanders honored as Champions for Children

 
To truly transform education in Rhode Island, we need the support and commitment not only from those of us in the education field but from all members of our community – business leaders, political leaders, and the nonprofit community organizations and charitable foundations. I was pleased to see that the New England Secondary School Consortium has honored the commitment of two outstanding friends of education in Rhode Island. The Consortium today (March 22) presented Champions for Children Awards to Senator Louis P. DiPalma and to Denise M. Jenkins, of the Rhode Island Foundation. Senator DiPalma and Denise Jenkins have be tremendous supporters of so many of our initiatives, including service on our Race to the Top Steering Committee. I congratulate them on this honor, and I look forward to continuing working with them toward improve teaching and learning for all students.
 

3.  Cranston Schools recognized for supporting employees in the military 

 
I was also pleased to see this week that the Cranston Public Schools have been nominated for a Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, which the U.S. government gives to selected employers for their support of their employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserve. We are committed across Rhode Island to providing excellent educational services to all children of military families, and it is also important that we recognize the needs and the contributions of educators and other staff members who serve in the armed forces. Congratulations to the Cranston Schools on this nomination. 
 

From RIDE


Meetings and events:
 

4.  RIDE invites educators to tour Oliver Hazard Perry sailing vessel

 
In partnership with the Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (Rhode Island’s Official Educational Sailing Vessel), we invite you  to join Commissioner Gist on a tour of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry. We have scheduled a visit to the ship (under construction), followed by a discussion on the next steps to incorporate the Oliver Hazard Perry experience into Rhode Island schools.
 
When:
Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to noon. 
 
Where:

Senesco Marine Shipyard, Quonset Point, North Kingstown (next to the Martha’s Vineyard Fast Ferry Terminal)


Schedule:
  • Tour of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry
  • Followed by workshop (Quonset, exact location TBD)
Workshop agenda:
  • Introduction and history of SSV Oliver Hazard Perry
  • Life aboard a tall ship and application of STEAM concepts
  • Educational opportunities (middle school, high school, university)
  • The next steps to integrate the Oliver Hazard Perry into the school curriculum
  • Q&A
Registration:
For more information and to register, e-mail jess@ohpri.org or call 848-0080. Please include your name, title, school or business address, phone, and e-mail address
 

5.  Congressman Langevin, RIDE sponsor event on multiple pathways to graduation

 
Congressman Jim Langevin and Commissioner Gist invite you to attend an event on our multiple pathways toward graduation, to be held on April 27. This event is primarily intended for school counselors, students, and families to participate in a morning of interactive panels consisting of students engaged in a variety of pathways, postsecondary administrators, and Rhode Island business leaders. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear first-hand about how our multiple pathways support students to help them successfully engage in academic and career opportunities after they graduate from high school
 
The conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon, at the East Greenwich campus of New England Institute of Technology, 1 New England Tech Blvd. Congressman Langevin and Commissioner Gist will be the featured keynote speakers. You will receive an e-mail from RIDE on Monday (March 25), that will include an invitation to the event and registration details. We encourage you to share this information with faculty members involved with pathways, school counselors, students, and families.
 
Data and reports:
 

6.  Infoworks adds new reports, features 

 
We have recently added a number of features to Infoworks, our main vehicle for reporting to the public our data on our schools and on student achievement. Infoworks now includes the second year of financial data from the Uniform Chart of Accounts (UCOA), UCOA reports on sources of revenue, 2011-12 reports on SAT and AP exam results, and tools that allow the visitors to develop interactive advanced reports.  
 

7.  RIDE launches new application for submitting, collecting personnel data

 
RIDE is pleased to announce a new data-collection application within the eRIDE portal for submitting personnel data. The new data-collection application is called the Personnel Data Collection (PDC). The first submission RIDE is launching within this new collection system is the Personnel Assignment Submission (PAS). The PAS will replace the Personnel Assignment Process (PAP). Just like the PAP, the PAS will allow LEAs to report assignment data regarding certified educators. HR specialists should use the PAS regularly to ensure that the LEA’s assignment data are up to date in the PAS. The PAS will be available starting today (March 22).
 
Educator Recognition: 
 

8.  State Teacher of the Year applications due April 8

 
Each 2012-13 District Teacher of the Year has been provided with an application for State Teacher of the Year. Applications should be mailed to Mary Keenan, in our Office of Educator Quality and Certification. If you have additional questions, contact Mary Keenan.  Applications are due by Monday, April 8.  More information on the process is available on our website.  The application is available under the "info" tab in the “RI Teacher of the Year” section on the Educator Recognition page.
  

9.  RIDE seeking nominations for 2013-14 District Teacher of the Year

 

The 2013-14 District Teacher of the Year application has been posted on our Teacher Recognition webpage. District Teacher of the Year applications are due by May 31. For the current school year, 38 teachers across Rhode Island represented their individual districts as District Teacher of the Year.  More information on the process is available on our website.  The application is available under the "info" tab in the “RI Teacher of the Year” section on the Educator Recognition page.

10.  RIDE seeking nominations for distinguished educators – Action Item 


RIDE maintains a file of distinguished teachers and principals.  Throughout the year, these educators may be considered for membership on advisory boards and task forces, as well as for special recognition programs. This year, RIDE is asking each LEA to recommend up to 3 educators who represent educators relatively new to the profession (5 to 12 years in the profession) who demonstrate unusual instructional and inspiring presence that helps students, colleagues, and the community. 
 
When you submit your recommendations, please include:
 
  • Talent Pool Recommendation form;
  • one-page narrative that addresses how each candidate meets the criteria; and
  • resume of recommended educator.
Thank you for taking the time to make your recommendations.
 

Download the application 


The above application and process information is located under the “Info” tab in the “RI Teacher of the Year” section on that page.  

Please send the completed packet of information by May 3 to Mary Keenan.

Educator Evaluations:

11.  Study shows teachers using high-quality Student Learning Objectives improve students’ academic achievement

A new study, It’s More Than Money, conducted by the Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC) found that students of teachers with Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) had growth rates significantly higher than students in a group of comparison-district schools. The study also found that high-quality SLOs are an effective means of connecting teacher practice to student learning. The study examined the effect of SLOs on student achievement and teacher practice by analyzing 4,000 teacher-developed SLOs implemented from 2007 through 2012 in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, in North Carolina.   

Assessments:
 

12.  RIDE launches Interim Assessment Test Construction Tool and schedules training webinar


RIDE is pleased to announce that the new Interim Assessment Test Construction Tool is now available through RIDEmap. The Test Construction Tool allows educators at any level – district or school administrators as well as teachers – to create their own tests, quizzes, and exercises. Currently, test questions are available for reading at grades 3 through 11 and for math at grades 3 through 8 and high school. All test questions are aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Additional test questions will be added to the tool as they become available.
 
Math and ELA educators in grades 3 through 12, as well as other educators (including principals, curriculum directors, assistant superintendents, department chairs, et al.), are encouraged to participate in the scheduled training webinar on Thursday (March 28), at 9 a.m., to learn more about how the Test Construction Tool works. 
 

If you are unable to participate in the webinar, you can listen to the recording.

The Test Construction Tool training documents are available for review before the webinar.  

If you have any questions about the upcoming webinar or would like more information about the Rhode Island Interim Assessments, please contact Dr. Kevon Tucker-Seeley by e-mail or phone (222-8494).