Issue 10 – ACE school hours, principal evaluations, ACP exams, and more

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“Notes from the Superintendent” is a document intended to provide answers to the most frequently asked or most topical questions that I hear from our dedicated teachers and staff members at the campus level. These notes are kept on the HUB, the district’s online newsroom, and will provide brief answers to different questions every two weeks. If you have a question related to something that affects a number of employees, you may submit that question here. I hope this additional form of communication will help all of us stay on the same page and enhance our ability to serve our students.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Do teachers at the ACE schools have to work until 6 p.m. every day?

Answer: No. The instructional day at an ACE school is 60 minutes longer than a normal school day, thus an ACE teacher will work an extra hour each day. ACE schools will remain open until 6 p.m. so students will have a safe and monitored place to study and do homework. Students can also simply “hang out” at designated locations in the school (media center, cafeteria, etc.) as long as they are not causing any disruption. Dinner will also be served. Each afternoon, a handful of teachers will be required to help monitor the students. The principal will develop the schedule with the staff.

Question: How do climate surveys figure into a principal’s evaluation?

Answer: The district conducts two climate surveys each year, one in December and the second in May. The results of the survey do not directly impact a principal’s evaluation. However, the climate surveys provide some information that is used to inform the executive director when filling out the rubrics for a principal’s performance evaluation and the system review. For example, the Leadership domain of the evaluation rubric includes behaviors related to reinforcing core beliefs, clarifying purpose, practicing sense-making, inspiring staff, and cultivating a positive school culture. Executive directors look at lots of different variables and factors when making determinations about principal performance; the climate survey is one of those documents they consider.

Question: Will there be ACPs for elementary specials at the end of this school year?

Answer: Yes, but only for third, fourth and fifth grades. The district has eliminated ACPs for elementary specials in kindergarten, first, and second grades. The district convened an Elementary Specials ACPs Task Force that made a series of recommendations for improving specials testing. Some of these are being implemented this year (e.g., performance tests scheduled on different days, Spanish translations within the tests) while others will be implemented next year (e.g., a training and calibration program for raters, having multiple raters per student, and reducing the performance element to one time per year).

Question: (Repeat) Will peers be able to conduct spot observations next year?

Answer: The Principal Focus Group will discuss this possibility at its next meeting. As you know, next year Distinguished teachers will receive six spot observations during the year; Proficient teachers will receive eight; and Progressing teachers will receive a minimum of 10. The focus group will discuss a proposal to allow two of the spot observations to be conducted by a teacher or instructional coach selected by the teacher being spot-observed.


DID YOU KNOW?

  • In the 2011-2012 school year, on average, at any given moment during the school day, there were 1,500 mobile devices on the district’s network. This school year, that average number has grown to more than 45,000.
  • In the 2012-2013 school year, our district’s Internet bandwidth was 1.2 Gbps, with an average utilization of 10%. Today it is eight Gbps, with utilization averaging 80 percent.

EXCERPTS

From Want Reform? Principals Matter, Too, by Will Miller, OpEd from the New York Times, 17 April 2015.

Politicians and education reformers are fixated on the performance of teachers, but they often overlook another key ingredient for improving student achievement: principals. The problem is that great principals often don’t end up in the schools that need them most — those with poor and minority students. School districts, states and universities need to do much more to get outstanding principals into these schools.

A generation ago, good principals were efficient middle managers. They oversaw budgets, managed complicated bus schedules and delivered discipline. That started changing in the mid-1990s. Today’s principal needs to be much more focused on the quality of teaching in the classroom.

. . . .

My organization, the Wallace Foundation, has spent a decade and a half working with states and districts nationwide, including the districts where these exemplary public school principals operate. We also commission research on school leadership. In the largest of these studies, covering 180 schools in nine states, researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto concluded, “We have not found a single case of a school improving its student achievement record in the absence of talented leadership.”

We need a bigger pool of outstanding principal candidates; we need to get them into the schools with the greatest challenges; and we need to support them on the job. Right now, that’s not happening in enough communities.


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