May 20, 2013
The Annual State of the Schools address to the SAU 29 School Board is an opportunity to summarize accomplishments of the past year as well as to take a moment to outline the challenges on the horizon. All seven districts passed their budgets and contracts once again this year, an accomplishment that in year’s past was often not the case. We continue to receive strong support from the communities we serve, a testimony to the faith the public has in the board members elected to serve on their behalf. I applaud each board member for your dedication and service to the students and districts of SAU 29.
The legislative impact on how we are able to conduct the business of running our school districts requires monitoring in order to gauge the effect of decisions made in Concord on the school districts of SAU 29. Each December, Central Office Administrators meet with State Representatives and Senators to discuss legislative issues concerning education funding before House and Senate sessions begin.
At this time the legislative session is primarily focused on the state budget – awaiting the Senate’s approval of their budget and then the reconciliation of that budget to the House’s approved version and the Governor’s proposed budget. The final State budget will undoubtedly be impacted by the availability of revenue sources. The House and Senate at this time have identified significantly different sources of revenue.
The New Hampshire Department of Education has submitted a revised waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education. The NH Department of Education applied for a federal waiver which would free the state from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. One of the issues for New Hampshire stems from the guidance from Education Secretary Arne Duncan that the US Department of Education would like to see a state-wide teacher effectiveness program included in the waiver that includes a percentage of student growth. Pending the outcome of the federal waiver, the NH Department of Education will make a final decision regarding the designation process (“Schools or Districts in Need of Improvement” or Priority or Focus Schools). The Commissioner’s office reported on Friday, May 17, that NH is close to approval and the Commissioner expects to hear shortly.
COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS:
New Hampshire has adopted the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards are a set of high quality academic expectations in English-language arts and mathematics that define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each grade level in order to be on track for success in college and career. Information on the Common Core can be found on the following website: www.corestandards.org.
The nation’s governors and education commissioners led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative.The Common Core was borne out of a joint concern expressed by governors, chief school officers, business leaders, the military and college faculty that American students are not adequately prepared either for college or the workforce.
The Common Core initiative is being supported by the governors and chief state school officers in light of their understanding that the changing economy and persistent achievement gaps require a dramatic shift in academic expectations. The consensus is that states are no longer well-served by a system in which each state has its own standards for what students should know and be able to do.
The standards promote equity by ensuring all students, no matter where they live, are well-prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to collaborate and compete with their peers in the United States and abroad. The Common Core State Standards allow for collaboration between states on a range of tools and policies. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards.
New Hampshire has embedded the Common Core Standards in the New Hampshire College-and Career-Ready Standards in order to fully prepare students to succeed in college and careers in the 21st Century. New Hampshire educators have analyzed our standards in comparison to the Common Core Standards and found them to be closely aligned. New Hampshire is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be available in the 2014-2015 school year. Students in Harrisville and in Chesterfield recently completed a pilot Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Preparations to shift to the Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments are underway in SAU 29 under the leadership of Assistant Superintendent Reuben Duncan. Data, Math and ELA teams have been formed and work has progressed throughout the 2012-2013 school year. The January 28 workshop day focused on an overview of the Common Core Standards for K-12 teachers.
Outcomes of the workshop included:
- Identification of the origin, purpose and anticipated outcomes of the new standards
- Identification of the strands within the Common Core Standards for mathematics, language and literacy
- Understanding that standards outline the most important essential skills and knowledge every student needs to master in order to be college and career ready
- Identification of the key processes that educators can anticipate for a successful transition to the common core standards
I have delivered presentations on the Common Core at Keene State College, Leadership Monadnock, ELA Curriculum Committee meetings, principal and staff meetings throughout SAU 29, at Keene Board of Education and town district school board meetings, as well as via radio interviews and through articles in the Keene Sentinel. In addition to leading the Data, Math and ELA teams, Mr. Duncan is collaborating with SAU 93 in regard to ways our two SAUs can collaborate as we prepare for the shift to the Common Core. We still have work to do, both in preparation for the shift to the Common Core, but also in terms of communicating to parents and families about what this all means for the education of our students. I have every confidence in our professional staff that we will successfully continue the transition to the NH College and Career Ready Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessments with the ultimate goal of providing the highest quality education possible for all our students. I will continue to keep board members updated on our progress.
The SAU 29 Teacher Evaluation Committee began meeting January 30, 2013. Members of the Teacher Performance Evaluation Committee include: Assistant Superintendent Reuben Duncan, Maureen Meyer, John McMahon, Carl Panza, Rob Stack, Matt Brady, Kristen Hill, Lynne Wagner, Kim Milliken, Susan Hay, Tom Kane, Dotty Frazier, Chris Coates, Sharon D’Eon and myself.
The committee continues to meet weekly and will do so through the end of the school year. The committee has established three evaluation tracks – Entry Level, Professional, and Support. The group is currently working on the Entry Level track and has established the following evaluation elements:
- Goal Setting
- Summative Evaluation
The Evaluation Committee, under the leadership of Assistant Superintendent Reuben Duncan, has opted to use Charlotte Danielson’s framework for teaching as the basis for what will become the SAU 29 Teacher Evaluation Model.
As we prepare for the challenges that lie ahead, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge some of the accomplishments from this school year.
Wonderful things have happened in all of our schools this past year.
In Chesterfield all grades visited the 1780 Farm where classroom learning is blended with hands-on, real-world teaching on a local family farm.
In Harrisville, the school celebrated the history and special places in Harrisville with an integrated production including student made props, music, and acting.
- Harrisville, along with the Marlborough School District, received a 21st century grant for a before and after school program. The grant provides approximately $882,000 in funding over a five-year period.
The Marlborough School and Keene State College have been working together for over three years to create a pilot program for a partnership that benefits the children of Marlborough and college students in the elementary teacher education program at Keene State College. Currently, a total of forty KSC students are enrolled in “embedded” methods courses taught at Marlborough School. Several others are enrolled as apprentice teachers.
- Marlborough School is in the process of working with students and their parents to develop an individual, personal learning plan for each student in grades K-8. Through this process, students review assessment data and receive assistance to develop annual goals for academic achievement. In addition, specific structures and support services are outlined for both school and home.
- The Marlborough School invites parents and community members each month to attend a public, whole school assembly whereby students showcase their achievements. Members of the community are also welcome to make presentations to the student body.
In Marlow students raised $500 for Pennies for Patients
- All students at Perkins School delivered a Historical Play, The First Settlers in Marlow, written by a Marlow resident, on May 16. Students designed the scenery and props and assisted with technical issues.
- The Marlow PTA sponsored March Mini Classes again this year that involves all students in 4 weeks of instruction for classes one hour afterschool with staff and parents teaching and supervising.
- The Marlow Historical Society sponsored, Bob Goodby, an archeologist from Franklin Pierce College to present his findings from the new Keene Middle School grounds. The artifacts will be on display in the middle school lobby.
Nelson successfully implemented a “Blizzard Bag” program to deliver instructional content on storm days. Next year the program will be renamed “online learning days”.
- Nelson developed a collaborative schedule to allow teachers to work in teams on Wednesday mornings while students attend specials. The school also added an RtI block.
- Sullivan students will be attending the Nelson School in the 2013-2014 school year, this will result in nearly doubling the size of the current enrollment in Nelson.
In Westmoreland, RtI team meetings were built into the schedule this year and next year a student-centered RtI block for the middle school will be built into the schedule.
- Westmoreland adopted the AIMSWEB assessment system and are using iPads to monitor student progress with this program.
- Westmoreland continues to work on their wellness goals as a Vision 2020 Champion School.
This year Jonathan Daniels has worked to improve instructional services available to ALL students.
- They have refined the Response to Instruction process and have been able to offer student enhanced remedial and enrichment opportunities.
- JD continues to incorporate wellness and extracurricular activities whenever possible.
The Harris Center named Franklin School teachers Andrea Dube and Gail Woolridge Teachers of the Year.
- Classroom teachers at Franklin will be doing summer work on the alignment of the Common Core Curriculum. A group of staff will also be attending a two day conference on the Common Core and will bring back information to share with all staff.
- Reading Specialist Pauline Brackett has provided training on the understanding of data to Franklin staff, monthly meetings where grade level teachers review student data and create groupings of students that still need support on particular skills. The teachers chart their students’ progress on data boards and clearly can see the progress their students are making.
- Mrs. Littlewood received the “Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award”. Principal Littlewood was nominated by fifth grade teacher, Brian Phillips.
Fuller teachers continue to work on the move to the Common Core and have begun to align curriculum to the standards.
- The tile mural celebrating the Keene community was installed at Fuller on May 11th & 12th . The installation is the culminating activity of the Artist in Residence Program organized by art teacher Peg Hartz. An open house to view the mural is scheduled for June 17.
- In June, Fuller will complete the final phase of the iPad pilot program.
- Emily Hartshorne (currently principal at Wells Memorial in Harrisville) has been selected as the new Fuller School Principal beginning July 1. Emily is replacing Paul Huggins who is retiring at the end of the school year.
Symonds School continues to provide a quality environment built around our commitment to Responsive Classroom principles and high performance on state mandated assessments.
- 88% of Symonds students were proficient or better in Reading and 86% were proficient or better in Math on the NECAP tests.
- Last spring, under the direction of Peter Siegel, the students produced a CD entitled “Peace Place”. Students performed before the Keene Board, City Council, Executive Council and the Governor.
The Wheelock School Faculty has committed to a school-wide implementation of T.H.E. P.A.C.T. Framework of instruction for the 2013-14 school year. All staff will have completed three days of training in 12-13, and will participate in a teaching/coaching model during the implementation phase. T.H.E. P.A.C.T. is a curriculum modification system that enables teachers to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners.
- Michelle Tiani was named Physical Education Teacher of the Year
- Preschool continues to meet the needs of the largest population of special needs preschoolers in the history of the program!
- Wheelock 4th graders in Debbie Sawyer’s classroom received the grand prize award from the NH Division of Travel and Tourism Development for the video they put together promoting the state. The video can be viewed on You Tube.
KMS music teacher Kate Butterfield, was honored as New Hampshire’s Choral Director of the Year on Friday, April 12
- KMS will be hosting a Developmental Designs Institute in August. This program is a continuation of the Responsive Classroom at the middle level.
- The outdoor learning lab is progressing well. Over $170,000 in donations and grants for supportive materials have been received, with major supporters being Timken and the Dorr Foundation. The permit for the boardwalk has been approved. Students have joined in promoting this project, serving as Student Ambassadors, and through this are learning even more about the importance of the wetlands behind KMS.
KHS had a 9% improvement in the percentage of students who scored proficient or better in English Language Arts/Reading (used to establish Adequate Yearly Progress)
- Department heads have written schedules for department curriculum re-writing, piloting and implementation through 2017.
- The Scheduling Implementation Committee led by Co-Chairs, Kim Baker and Kelly Budd are moving forward with planning for the implementation of “I time” (formerly called “5th Block”) during the 2013-2014 school year. Regular updates are posted on the Keene High School website as well as reported out in my monthly Superintendent reports which are also posted to my blog on the SAU website.
- Keene High School Physics teacher Susan Romano was named as a semi-finalist for the 2014 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year. Sue has been teaching at Keene High School since 2008. She earned her Master’s Degree in cognitive sciences at Dartmouth. Sue is one of 36 NH teachers who were honored at a Teacher of the Year Nominee Ceremony on April 8 in Concord.
I am pleased to report to the SAU 29 School Board this evening on the progress being made in our schools to ensure the successful education of the 4,266 students who comprise SAU 29. Our journey continues, and I am confident in our abilities as a collective group - students, parents, staff, administration, and school board members alike - that we will meet and exceed our expectations.
On behalf of the Central Office staff, it is a privilege to represent and support the students and staff of SAU 29.