Tuesday, September 2, 2008

J. Kenan Applies New Programs to Raise Test Scores

J. Kenan applies new programs to raise test scores

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 7:47 AM CDT
KENANSVILLE — Low academic performance at the James Kenan High School has brought about changes by administrators in an effort to help students learn and succeed in the classroom.

Two years ago, the high school was listed by the state as a “low performing school.” State officials, according to Tony Faison, assistant principal at James Kenan, said nine of the 10 low end-of-grade test scores came from freshmen. Faison attributes the low freshman scores to immaturity. That’s where the school board has targeted change in a new school reform model, titled the “Talent Development Model.”

The transition from middle school to high school brings about many changes for the incoming students, said Faison, more independence and responsibility. Poor decisions can be made in those early years, resulting in a negative life outcome.

In a new “learning model” called the “freshman academy,” freshman of the high school will be grouped together. Students who share the same homeroom teacher will comprise a group, and will take the same classes together throughout the day. The idea, said Faison, is to instill a sense of camaraderie, unity and brotherhood, “really just to show love,” said Faison.

Freshman will be separated from other classmen throughout their daily schedule, hopefully building strong lasting relationships with their groups and fellow colleagues.

The academy is part of a two pronged effort to raise test scores at the school. Along with the Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, STEM, school. Administrators are hoping students will benefit.

“We want both models to work for kids; we feel they will,” said Cary Powers, assistant superintendent of Duplin County schools.

The school system will also implement two other learning strategies this year. The first, Study Island, a web-based computer program will allow students to learn at their own individual pace. The program, according to Powers, is customizable by teachers, and will aid in student learning. Topics, like math and reading could be assigned to students and could be further designated by teachers to include a subcategory. After each web-lesson, students can expect about 20 questions on the learned material. The program can be accessed just about any where, said Powers.

The second strategy calls for better communication between teachers. Teachers at every grade level will now be expected to communicate with teachers of the next grade level. The goal is help teachers keep kids from “slipping through the cracks” said Powers.

By Michael Connolly
Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 2, 2008 7:47 AM CDT

Monday, September 1, 2008

School officials plan to use success to spur other schools

School officials plan to use success to spur other schools

By Josh Humphries
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 01, 2008

Pitt County school officials say that federal measures and state measures show improvement at several schools in the district, and they plan to use that success to spur similar results at other schools.

“We are getting much better at using student assessment data to diagnose student needs,” Superintendent Beverly Reep said in an e-mail response to questions from The Daily Reflector.

“Our most successful schools are using that data regularly to target classroom instruction, remediation, enrichment and support to address individual student learning needs.”

Reep said she has a 10-page document that outlines strategies being used in some Pitt County schools to improve test scores. The district plans to make a series of videos this year to show the strategies being used across the district.

The schools that were successful with federal measures can share ideas with schools that did not make adequate yearly progress or AYP, a measure that gauges achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind act.

Bethel School met both federal and state measures by making high growth and meeting AYP.

Teachers at the school have used a variety of tests to identify areas of academic strength and areas for improvement in each student, according to local schoolofficials.

This allows the teachers and remediation specialists to target specific instructional practices that meet the individual needs of the students. Principal Betty Tolar believes the results validate the hard work and dedication of the school's students and staff.

“Teachers have stepped out of their comfort zones in order to raise the bar for themselves and their students,” Tolar said.

At C.M. Eppes Middle School, where the school achieved high growth in 2007-08 for the first time in the school's history, administrators developed team and grade level strategies to help maintain discipline in the classroom.

The teachers decided that suspending a student would be the last option, said Heather Mayo, spokeswoman for Pitt County Schools.

As a result, suspensions were down by 47 percent during the year allowing students to spend more time in class.

Principal Charlie Langley said it had a direct impact on student achievement. “The children were better behaved and more focused on learning,” he said.

Students regularly used Study Island, a computer study program based on the state's standard course of study, to reinforce learning goals and administer benchmark testing.

Ayden-Grifton High School was the only high school in Pitt County to achieve growth status under state accountability guidelines.

Principal Bill Frazier said the effort took teamwork.

“The staff and students have worked together in setting high expectations as well as creating and implementing a plan to meet those expectations,” Frazier said.

The school implemented a review session that begins six weeks prior to the end of each semester. Frazier believes the review session has helped improve the school's results.

District officials said that talking to a child's principal is the best way right now to learn about the strategies that are in place at the child's school.

Josh Humphries can be contacted at jhumphries@coxnc.com and 329-9565.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Half of High School Classes Could Be Online by 2019

Report: Half of High School Classes Could Be Online by 2019

by Dave Nagel

Low-cost delivery and tailored learning opportunities could drive up to half of all high school courses online by 2019, according to a report from researchers that's set to appear in the summer issue of Education Next, published out of the Hoover Institution, the public policy research center at Stanford University.

The researchers--Clayton M. Christensen, Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Michael B. Horn, executive director of education at the Innosight Institute--said that while while only about 1 percent of courses in 2007 were online, this figure represents a 22-fold increase from 2000 and should grow to 10 percent within six years and to about 50 percent by 2019.

Two of the major reasons for this are that online course delivery is cheap compared with the "current public education model"-- $200 to $600 per course--and that online courses can offer things to students that traditional schools clearly can't. Viz:

* A broader curriculum;
* AP classes (note: as of 2003, a third of schools do not offer AP classes, and many that do offer the classes only offer "a fraction of the 34 courses for which AP exams are available");
* More "customized" learning opportunities;
* Remediation where none is available in the traditional school;
* Continuing education for dropouts; and
* Additional support for homeschooled students.

In these ways, the researchers pointed out, online schools are not competing with traditional schools, but complementing them or supplementing them. Christiansen and Horn referred to this approach as "disruptive innovation."

They explained: "A disruptive innovation extends its benefits to people who, for one reason or another, are unable to consume the original product [i.e., a traditional school]. Disruptive innovations tend to be simpler and more affordable than existing products. This allows them to take root in simple, undemanding applications within a new market or arena of competition. Disruptions rely on asymmetric motivation, in this case, taking on courses that the traditional system is relieved not to do and happy to hand off."

The researchers also found that the American public favors online education. According to a survey conducted by Education Next and the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard, a majority favor spending public funds on online education for "advanced coursework or to help students in rural schools get access to a broader range of courses." Another 69 percent said they'd let their children take courses online for credit.

And momentum is building. At present, some 25 states in the United States now offer courses online for high school students. "In 2006-07, one-third of high school seniors in Utah took a class online through the state's Electronic High School last year; 52,000 students were served by the Florida Virtual School, and 4,600 students were enrolled in the Georgia Virtual School," according to the researchers.

About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology.

Monday, August 4, 2008


If you are a principal or central administration and you are curious about Study Island, send me an email and I will follow-up with you. We have used Study Island on campus since 2003 and our results have been outstanding.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Study Island - Principal's Desk

Well, as you may have extracted from the title......I have taken a different path for the 08-09 school year. After 20 years in public education, I have decided to pursue another avenue of learning for students that I am very passionate about - online and virtual learning environments.

This was the most difficult decision that I have ever had to make, and although I am excited about the opportunity that awaits, I am also very sad to leave the principalship at Hyer. No principal could ask for better parents and students.....I have been truly blessed these last 5 years.

One thing that I have always told my two boys is that I hope that they are never afraid to step out and take a risk. Now obviously that doesn't apply to all things that teenagers encounter, but I think you understand what I am talking about here. This is just one of those times when I am modeling what I hope that I have instilled in each of my boys. To me this is what life is all about.......stepping outside of that comfort zone on occasion and trying something new. This opportunity at Study Island will allow me to continue to explore and develop student learning opportunities, but through a slightly different lens.

I guess the best way to encapsulate my decision is through one of my favorite poems and one that I have shared with my two sons for as long as I can remember.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thank you again for allowing me to be the principal of the best school in Texas.....I am forever changed and better for it.

Greg Smith

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summer Projects - Indoor and Outdoor Projects

All projects are on schedule.

Courtyard - Demo being completed this week
Workroom - Cabinets and island to be installed this week
Student Art and Pictures - to be installed later this summer
Classroom organizers - this week

We are looking good! I think everyone will be very happy with the results in August!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Run For Ryan Tomorrow

HPISD students and community members are banding together to raise money and search for a kidney donor for 11-year-old Ryan Michael.

Ryan’s fellow students at McCulloch Intermediate School are raising money to help offset the considerable expenses associated with Ryan’s kidney transplant with the Run for Ryan. The fund-raiser will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the MIS track. If you would like to sponsor a runner or get more information about the Run for Ryan, please contact MIS Assistant Principal Dr. Marcia Pool at poolm@hpisd.org or call 214-780-3500.

HPISD voters approve $75.4 million bond issue

HPISD voters approve $75.4 million bond issue

Voters in Highland Park ISD overwhelmingly approved a $75.4 million school bond issue today with 91.15% backing the proposition. The vote was 1,844 to 179.

“I am deeply grateful to the community for supporting the bond issue and for investing in the maintenance of the historical school houses that have served the students of HPISD for many decades,” HPISD Superintendent Dr. Cathy Bryce said. “We pledge to manage the money with the utmost care and to work closely with a community-based bond oversight committee to ensure that the projects are completed in accordance with community expectations.”

Bryce said she was thrilled by the voting turnout and the margin of victory.

“The voting numbers speak volumes about this incredible community and its support for its public schools. This community never ceases to amaze me.”

HPISD School Board President Jeff Barnes called the results “a tremendous vote of confidence from our community.”

He lauded the Facilities Committee and the Community Bond Committee, both of which were made up of community members.

“We are so grateful to these leaders for their excellent work,” Barnes said. “The Facilities Committee laid the groundwork for a successful bond issue by touring the campuses and studying the details of each building’s maintenance history and projected needs. They also spent considerable time holding public forums and listening to feedback from parents and other taxpayers. In the end, they brought a very solid proposal to the school board, which we, in turn, put to a public vote.

“Then the Community Bond Committee picked up the ball and put together a phenomenal campaign,” he said. “They put up yard signs, distributed letters and reminder cards and ran a very effective e-mail campaign advocating for the bond. There is no doubt that their work led to increased voter awareness and turnout. We thank each and every one of these workers, and each voter who went to the polls and supported our schools.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

State Assessments Tomorrow for 3rd and 4th Grades

Just a reminder that our 3rd and 4th graders will be taking state assessment tests tomorrow. Our 3rd graders will be taking their 3rd Grade Reading Assessment and our 4th graders will be taking their 4th Grade Writing Assessment. There are no make-up days for the 4th grade Writing Assessment but we will have two days of make-up tests for the 3rd grade Reading Assessment. Be sure and email or call Greg or Nancy if you have any questions.



Monday, February 18, 2008

Protecting Student Privacy

Dear Parents,

Occasionally, HPISD administrators and staff members receive inquiries from parents and other members of the public seeking information about students who have gotten into trouble at school. Some say they need the information because they want to be sure their children are associating with the right peers. Others say the rumor mill is churning, and they want to be able to help set the record straight. Others offer help and professional services. Still others just want to know what happened.

The bottom line for us as educators is that we must protect each student’s right to privacy. That means that we cannot discuss student discipline matters, period. There are myriad reasons, both ethical and legal, for this restriction. First, it is simply the right thing to do for children. When parents put their child in our care, they trust us not only to provide an excellent education for the child, but also to provide a safe learning environment. Realistically, some of the 6,300 children in HPISD are going to make mistakes from time to time. When they do, it is our responsibility to act decisively and confidentially. Decisions regarding consequences are made in accordance with the student Code of Conduct. When a situation is serious enough to necessitate the involvement of law enforcement officials, we cooperate fully with police to provide the information they need to take appropriate action.

Second, there are strict laws protecting student privacy. Those laws begin at the federal level with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974) and are reinforced by Texas law (Public Information Act) and local HPISD policy. There are serious consequences for educators who violate these laws and policies.

We in Highland Park ISD are committed to respecting the ethical and legal guidelines and laws that protect our students’ right to privacy. We ask you as parents and community members to join us in this commitment.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Birthdays, 1/2 Birthdays, 1/4 Leap Year 2nd Cousin Celebrations

Ok, I love birthdays as much as the next person. If there is a situation where I might get a present......especially a gadget......I am all for it. I don't even mind making up a holiday in order to celebrate.....I believe National Squirrel Day is just around the corner.......

But as for school, this is a reminder that as far as student birthday parties go, they can only be celebrated in the cafeteria during the student's lunch. This rule is the same for teachers as well. There are two parties allowed per year......and those are usually around the Winter Break, Valentine's Day or Halloween. The rule is in place in order to protect instructional time in the classroom.

So......call me the "birthday grinch" but I need for everyone to stick to this rule in the future. Save the clowns, balloons and life-size T-Rex's and complete Star Wars themed parties including Wookie costumes for all for the home parties......

As for me, I will just browse through Best Buy and hope for the best come birthday time from my wife......hopefully she will know what "Blu Ray" is by that point.