Monday, April 22, 2013

Some GREAT Questions

Spring Sporting Events: Well, we had a pretty good week weather wise, and we were able to finally get some games in! On Wednesday we had every sport playing on our grounds except for JV baseball and Varsity track who were away. You should take an opportunity to come and watch our student athletes. Our facilities rival junior colleges, and our athletes are playing incredibly well. In fact, our girls lacrosse team is currently ranked number one in the state for Class A schools. Nice work!

Helping Others is Important: Over the weekend I attended another OUTSTANDING fundraiser for a student in one of our schools with some medical needs.  It is always amazing to see how quickly our community comes together to help some of our youngsters when they really need it.  I am very appreciative as well of all the volunteers that I saw working for a good cause. Thank you.

Q & A about Subjects from Previous Blogs: I have had some very good conversations and feedback from parents near and far regarding the two blogs that I recently posted about standardized testing, Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), and the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).  I would like to share a couple of the questions that were received and also clarify a couple of points.

Question: Can a child fail a grade if they do not perform well on a state standardized test?
Answer:  A child will not fail or advance a grade based on their standardized test score.

Question: Do students with disabilities have to take the NYS standardized tests? 
Answer: All students, including those with disabilities, are given the NYS standardized tests. If a student is profoundly disabled, they can be identified as testing exempt. That number is normally 2% or less of the ENTIRE student population. A student could be given support on the exam based on the level of disability and conditions that are prescribed in the child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Question: How do you treat a child who just had a "bad test day"? 
Answer: This is a great question. West Genesee has a K-8 Response to Intervention Plan (RTI) for Math, English, Reading, and Writing. New York State requires that schools have to provide a Response to Intervention Plan (RTI Plan) for grades K-4 in English ONLY.  We chose to exceed this requirement two years ago so that we can better service ALL students.

If your West Genesee K-8 student has a "bad test day" on a NYS Assessment (otherwise known as test), we go to the other internal data points that we have collected throughout the years to make a very quick decision as to how much support that child needs moving forward.

The beauty of the K-8 RTI plan is that if a child needs help, they get it quickly and appropriately. If they do not need the help, they do not receive it. I often forget that thousands of people read these posts each week and many are from other schools and other states. I would recommend that you check with your particular school to see how extensive their RTI plans are. In my opinion, the comprehensive coverage that our plan provides gives students and teachers the most flexibility.

Flags at Half-Staff: Changing the subject, I also got a great question from a student regarding our flags. They wanted to know who can direct our flags to be flown at half-staff. This is an awesome question and made me realize that our flags seem to be at half-staff nearly as often as full-staff these days, and that our younger students do not know anything different.

ONLY the President of the United States, the Governor, and the Mayor of Washington D.C. (because D.C. does not have a Governor) can order flags to be flown at half-staff.  Anyone that flies a flag at half-staff on their own without receiving a direct order to do so, is in violation of the "Flag Code".  There are no "Flag Code" police, but most organizations try to be as respectful to the "Flag Code" as possible. Great question and learning opportunity for the students!

The weather is looking up again for this week. I should have all the diplomas signed, and we should be well into our graduation planning by the end of the week. We are almost to the end.

Have a great week!